Mysterious Drawing Known As ‘Nude Mona Lisa’ May Have Actually Been Sketched By Leonardo da Vinci Himself

The Mona Lisa in the Louvre.
Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

A mysterious drawing known to art experts as the Nude Mona Lisa may have actually been sketched by Leonardo da Vinci himself, a new analysis finds.

The charcoal drawing has attracted attention for hundreds of years for the nude subject’s stunning resemblance to the famous Mona Lisa painting. There had long been a belief that it was completed by one of da Vinci’s students as an homage to the Mona Lisa painting, but CNN reports that there is now evidence it came from the artist himself.

Investigators from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France say they uncovered evidence that the Monna Vanna or Nude Mona Lisa was actually sketched in da Vinci’s studio by a left-handed artist, which would strongly suggest that the left-handed da Vinci created it himself.

Experts said the discovery of left-handed strokes on the sketch was seen as a major piece of evidence that it was a Leonardo da Vinci original.

“Finding those marks is a breakthrough,” reported Smithsonian magazine. “[The New York Times] reports that experts originally doubted the work was from Leonardo’s hand because of those right-handed marks. Before the recent analysis, they could not discern if the creator of the rest of the work was right or left-handed.”

There was even more evidence suggesting it was created by da Vinci, including evidence of what is known as the “sfumato” technique, which includes blurring color transitions, showing that the sketch was very likely the original and not a copy.

“There is a very strong possibility that Leonardo did most of the drawing,” Mathieu Deldicque, the curator of the Condé Museum where the painting has been housed since 1862, told CNN. “It is a work of very great quality done by a great artist.”

The famous painting is actually one of many to show the famous Mona Lisa figure in the nude. Smithsonian noted that there were so many students of Leonardo da Vinci both in his time and afterward, many of them tried their hand at imagining da Vinci’s famous character in the flesh. Mathieu Deldicque said that it was almost certain that da Vinci himself would have tried to paint Mona Lisa in the nude.

The Monna Vanna painting will be on display at the Conde Museum in a show commemorating da Vinci’s death and will be on display with a number of other nude depictions of Mona Lisa, CNN reported.