Roughly five hundred years after the creation of the Mona Lisa or La Gioconda by Leonardo da Vinci, 2012 has turned out to be quite a big year for earth shattering news for a painting that many believe to be the world’s most famous painting. Earlier in the year, the art world was shocked by the discovery and subsequent authentication of a second copy of La Gioconda found in the basement of the Prado. A few months ago we reported that researchers believe they have found the bones of Lisa Gheradini, widely believed to be the sitter for the portrait, underneath convent in Florence. When the Prado Mona Lisa was authenticated, scholars accepted it as there was ample historical evidence that Leonardo painted two versions of the masterpiece. However, for the past sixty years, the second Mona Lisa was believed to be the Isleworth Mona Lisa.
The Art Newspaper has reported that the mysterious Isleworth Mona Lisa will be unveiled in Geneva this week along with supporting research by Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci and Carlo Pedretti, of the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies at the University of California. This alleged version of the Mona Lisa is on canvas while the other two versions are on wooden panels. It is larger than the other originals and presents a younger Mona Lisa flanked by two columns. However, both the Louvre Mona Lisa and that of the Prado both include the bases of columns. Supporters believe that the later versions were either cropped or edited out by Leonardo.
The Isleworth Mona Lisa was discovered early in the 20th century by Hugh Blaker, an English art critic and collector who purchased it from the estate of a Somerset nobleman.
After he bought the painting, he took it to his studio in Isleworth, London, hence the name.
Mr Blaker later sold the portrait for a vast sum to an American collector, Henry F Pulitzer. Pulitzer spent years researching and attempting to authenticate the work as an original Leonardo. In 1966 he published a book on the subject titled Where is the Mona Lisa?
After his death the painting was passed on to his girlfriend and upon her death it was purchased by a consortium of Swiss based investors who have kept it in a Swiss vault for the past 40 years.