Leonardo da Vinci Painting Lost for Centuries Found in Swiss Bank Vault

NEW YORK | Friday, October 4th, 2013 9:59pm EDT

The painting has been lost for centuries, making experts believe that it had never existed.

Leonardo da Vinci Painting Lost for Centuries Found in Swiss Bank Vault 01

Experts believe that Leonardo da Vinici’s sketch of Isabella d’Este was the base for the artist’s painting discovered in a Swiss bank vault. Photo: The International Business Times

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, which depicts Isabella d’Este, a noblewoman of Renaissance times, was found in a private collection of 400 works kept in a Swiss bank by an Italian magnates, who wished to stay unidentified.

The unexpected discovery seems to be a completed version of a pencil sketch drawn by the artist in Italy back in 1499, reports The Telegraph.

The sketch, the apparent inspiration for the newly found work, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

For a few centuries experts doubted whether Leonardo had the time to develop the sketch into a complete painted portrait. According to scientists, after seeing the drawing the marquesa wrote to Da Vinci, insisting on a complete version of her portrayal.

However, soon he set to work on one of his greatest masterpieces, The Battle of Anghiari on the walls of Florence’s town hall, and then, in 1503, started painting the Mona Lisa.

Thus, historians simply lost interest and later forgot of the sketch. But now it appears that da Vinci managed to finish the project — perhaps when he encountered the aristocrat, one of the most influential female figures of her day, in Rome in 1514.

The conducted expertise confirmed that the found painting does belong to da Vinci, says Carlo Pedretti, a professor emeritus of art history and an expert in Leonardo studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo,” Prof Pedretti, a recognised expert in authenticating disputed works by Da Vinci, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “I can immediately recognise Da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.”

Art experts, who examined the founding, claim that it had the pigment and primer similar or even the same as those the famous Italian artist used. Further tests offer evidence that the work was painted between 1460 and 1650.

Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at Trinity College, Oxford, and one of the world’s most famous experts on da Vinci’s works, told reporters that in case the find was authenticated it would be worth “tens of millions of pounds” because there are only 15 to 20 genuine da Vinci works in the whole world.

However, the expert raised doubts about whether the painting was really the work of Leonardo, as he explained that the found in a Swiss bank painting was performed on canvas, while Leonardo preferred to work with wooden boards.

“Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line,” Prof Kemp said. “Although with Leonardo, the one thing I have learnt is never to be surprised.”

“You can’t rule out the possibility but it seems unlikely,” Kemp told reporters.

It should be noted that the find piece of art measures 24 inches by 18 inches. It seems to have some similar features to the sketch at the Louvre: the subject’s posture, dress, and hairstyle are nearly identical.

As Fox News writes, fans of the “Mona Lisa” may also recognize in the found work the same enigmatic smile.

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