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'Mona Lisa' copy identified at Prado Museum in Spain

February 2, 2012 |  8:15 am

  Monalisa

Copies of masterpieces don't usually garner media attention. But when it's a case of the "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo Da Vinci and a copy of the painting that is nearly as old as the original, exceptions can be made.

Experts at the Prado Museum in Madrid said recently that they have identified a copy of the enigmatic masterpiece that has been residing within its collection. It is believed that the painting was created by a pupil of Da Vinci who was working in tandem with the Renaissance master.

The finding, which was reported in The Art Newspaper, has come as a surprise to many in the art world. The copy was discovered after conservators at the Prado removed black paint from what they believed was a replica of the "Mona Lisa" created after Da Vinci's death.

What they found was a bright and colorful copy of the original "Mona Lisa" that they believed changed as Da Vinci developed his painting. The Art Newspaper, which reported extensively on the breaking story, said that the face in the copy depicts a woman probably in her 20s.

The copy provides a window of insight into the original painting by offering a clearer depiction of certain details, like the model's clothes and the surrounding landscape.

The original "Mona Lisa" resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506.

The discovery of the copy has been accepted by the two key authorities, the Prado and the Louvre, said the Art Newspaper.

The artist who created the copy is unknown but one expert believes it to be one of Da Vinci's two favorite pupils -- either Andrea Salai or Francesco Melzi, according to the Art Newspaper.

The copy is expected to be unveiled at the Prado in mid-February, and then travel to the Louvre in the spring.

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-- David Ng

Photo: Prado Museum Assistant Director Gabriele Finaldi speaks with a group of reporters in front of the museum's copy of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." Credit: Luca Piergiovanni / EPA

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