Painting by Leonardo da Vinci discovered

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In one of the most amazing recent examples of intuition, detective work, technical innovation and connoisseurship, a new addition to the very limited corpus of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci has now come to light.

The painting, actually a mixed-media of white, red and black chalks with additions of watercolour, and executed on vellum, was discovered in a private Swiss collection. Originally purchased in a New York auction ten years ago, the painting was catalogued as 'German early 19th century', and sold for $20 000.

A mitigating factor for the experts of the auction house is that the work was somewhat over painted during a very sensitive restoration, probably in the 19th century. And the fact that it is executed on vellum, in this case the first example by the master in this medium to come to light, probably convinced the experts that it was done by a German artist in the 19th century.

The work, a 'nuptial' portrait of a young woman in profile”, dating from Leonardo's first Lombard period, ca.1485, measures ca.24x33 centimeters. The first to have fully understood the importance ot this work was Dr. Nicholas Turner formerly curator of drawings at the British museum and the Getty museum.

"This finished, coloured drawing on vellum shows a young woman in profile to the left, her hair descending in a single plait from beneath an elaborate head-dress or caul, wearing late fifteenth-century Italian costume," Turner writes. "Based on its style and left-handed shading, it can only be one of two things — an original work by Leonardo da Vinci or a copy, pastiche or fake made to look like an autograph portrait
by Leonardo."

This was followed by positive opinions by Mina Gregori, Carlo Pedretti and Allesandro Vezzosi, director of the Da Vinci museum in Vinci who will be featuring the work in his new monograph on the artist 'Leonardo Infinito' which will be published in Italy.

Dr. Cristina Geddo, an art scholar from Milan, wrote "one can only suppose that Leonardo was the artist responsible for this work, a conclusion that is supported, in my opinion, by four fundamental arguments: the unequivocal character of the style and of the physiognomy; the unrivalled quality of the execution; the irrefutable evidence of the recurring, left-handed shading; and the selfsame experimental technique with which the portrait itself is realized."

The technical analysis and visual elements for the attribution by the experts and art historians was done by the independent research group, Lumiere Technology, a Paris based institute.

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