A Leonardo da Vinci painting which has been lost for 500 years and depicts an Italian noblewoman has been found in a Swiss bank vault.
Previously, only the sketch of the final painting existed and was displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
The discovery was made when a 400 piece private collection was uncovered at the Swiss Bank vault. The family owning the pieces wishes to remain anonymous.
The painting is strikingly similar to that of Da Vinci’s sketch of Isabella d’Este, a Renaissance Italian noblewoman.
Da Vinci’s piece has been the subject of a 500-year-long mystery among art historians and had reached the status of a myth with those searching its whereabouts and there were doubts about the existence of the finished piece.
The original sketch is believed to have been drawn by the maestro in 1499 while he was in Mantua, located in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy.
The da Vinci painting authentication would finally put to rest speculation of whether the sketch displayed at the Louvre was actually finished by da Vinci.
According to legend, the Marquis depicted in the portrait was so impressed, that she begged the painter to finish it into a completed piece.
Leonardo was quite busy with some major works at the time when he supposedly sketched the woman. First he had begun one of his major pieces The Battle of Anghiari in Florence’s town hall, and later on in 1503 he began working on one of his most iconic pieces, the Mona Lisa, which also hangs in the Louvre.
Carlo Pedretti, professor emeritus of art history and expert in Leonardo at the University of California, Los Angeles said the painting is “without a doubt” the lost da Vinci painting after scientific tests have come back confirming the news.
However, another expert, Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of history of art at Trinity College in Oxford, and one of the world’s foremost experts on da Vinci, has doubts as to the authenticity of the work found.
“Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line,” Kemp told The Daily Telegraph. “Although with Leonardo, the one thing I have learned is never to be surprised.”
More doubts are brought on since da Vinci gave his original sketch to the Marquis d’Este and it would have been almost impossible to reproduce it exactly in a painting.
Some are attributing the lost da Vinci painting to one of the many artists who copied his work in those days or one of his apprentices. The lost painting could be worth $150 million, if confirmed to be an original.