Experts say the painting was completed at the same time as Leonardo’s original
|01 February 2012 -> theartnewspaper.com|
Bruno Mottin, the head conservator at the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, believes that the most likely painter of the Prado copy was one of Leonardo’s two favourite pupils.
Mottin proposes that it was either Andrea Salai, who originally joined Leonardo’s studio in 1490 and probably became his lover, or Francesco Melzi, who joined around 1506. If the Prado replica is eventually attributed to Melzi, it suggests a late date for the original.
What the copy reveals
The Madrid copy of the Mona Lisa is important for what it tells us about Leonardo’s studio practice. The production of a second version, painted alongside the original, is intriguing. It adds credence to Martin Kemp’s theory that Leonardo may also have had a hand in both versions of The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, 1501-07, one owned by the Duke of Buccleuch and the other by a New York private owner (formerly in the Lansdowne collection).