HistoryofScience.com Blog

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Previously Unknown Painting by Leonardo Discovered

In one of the most remarkable art-historical developments ever, a previously unknown painting has been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci:
"The painting, a nuptial portrait of a young woman in profile, dates from Leonardo's first Lombard period, ca.1485. The finding is one of the most amazing recent examples of intuition, detective work, technical innovation and connoisseurship. An American collector discovered the masterpiece in a private Swiss collection. The portrait, actually a mixed-media of white, red and black chalks with additions of watercolor, is executed on vellum and measures approximately 24X33 centimeters. Originally purchased in a New York auction 10 years ago, the painting was catalogued as "German early 19th century," and sold for $20,000. This is the first known Da Vinci work executed on vellum, a factor that probably led experts to believe that it was painted by a 19th century German "Nazarene" artist. Moreover, the portrait appears to have been somewhat painted over in the 19th century during a very sensitive restoration. The first to have fully understood the importance of this work was Dr. Nicholas Turner, former Curator of Drawings for the British and Getty Museums. The attribution has been subsequently confirmed by a number of experts, including Dr. Mina Gregori and Dr. Cristina Geddo. The owner is a private Swiss collector who was "overwhelmed" when told of the true attribution. Allesandro Vezzosi, Director of Italy's Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci will feature the work in his new monograph on the artist "Leonardo Infinito" to be published July 5th. Lumiere Technology, a Paris based institute under the guidance of inventor Pascal Cotte and Jean Penicaut confirmed the portrait's attribution and performed the technical analysis. " (artdaily.org, July 6, 2008)

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