Before Painting the Iconic Mona Lisa, Might Leonardo da Vinci Have Sketched a Nude Version First?

By | October 11, 2017

Before painting the iconic Mona Lisa, did Leonardo da Vinci have sketched a nude prototype first?

This is exactly the question that experts at the Louvre Museum in Paris are now trying to figure out. The sketch, known as the Monna Vanna, was previously attributed to one of da Vinci’s students, but curators at the Louvre have reasons to believe it may have in fact been created by the da Vinci himself — and could have been a precursor to the Mona Lisa.

Thus far, experts believe that the Monna Vanna was created “at least in part” by Leonardo da Vinci. And if it isn't solely his work, it was at least drawn in his studio and with the help of his students.

But then again, based on evidence the experts have found, the sketch could very well be da Vinci’s work alone. For one, the paper used in the art piece comes from the time and place in which da Vinci lived; second, and the sketching quality of the Monna Vanna recalls da Vinci’s, particularly when it comes to Monna Vanna's face and arms, which are positioned almost exactly the same way as the Mona Lisa’s.

Furthermore, the experts have also found holes in the paper around the Monna Vanna’s fingers, which is an indicator that it may have been used to trace its form onto a canvas in preparation for an oil painting. But as to whether or not the Monna Vanna was a preparatory work for the iconic Mona Lisa remains a mystery for now.

Art historians have long suspected that Leonardo da Vinci did, in fact, create a nude version of the Mona Lisa that has yet to be found. The hope that the Monna Vanna might be this missing art is certainly fueling the experts still hard at work analyzing the mysterious sketch.