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Mona Lisa had eyebrows, art expert says

November 13, 2009 |  3:50 pm

Monalisa Someone alert Dan Brown. The novelist's best-selling "The Da Vinci Code" contained many conjectures about the history and provenance of the "Mona Lisa" -- many of  which have been dismissed as pure nonsense by  scholars and religious figures.

Now comes word that at least one persistent rumor concerning the masterpiece is true. Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" used to have eyebrows, according to a French art expert.

Pascal Cotte was granted special access to the 16th-century painting at the Louvre Museum in Paris, according to a report in the London Telegraph. Cotte said Da Vinci built up the painting in layers, the last being a special glaze. He then painted details such as the eyebrows on top of the glaze.

"That could explain why the eyebrows have disappeared," he told the British newspaper. "They have faded because of chemical reactions or they have been cleaned off."

Using a 240 megapixel camera, Cotte was able to see past the top paint surface and examine the layers below.

Among his other discoveries: the dull sky behind Mona Lisa was actually a brighter blue and a finger on her left hand had been moved by Da Vinci to create a more relaxed feeling.

The findings will be a part of the exhibition "The Secrets of Mona Lisa," which is set to open on Saturday at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England.

The exhibition also features the large-scale infrared photograph of the painting as well as other high-definition images that reveal details of the masterwork. It also features a 360-degree walk around -- a  replica of the painting that allows visitors a closeup of some of the details.

-- David Ng

Credit: Agence France Presse