The Mona Lisa, painted portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo.
Universal History Archive UIG via Getty Images
By Emily Price
September 29, 2017

Historians think they’ve discovered what might be a nude sketch of Mona Lisa drawn before Leonardo da Vinci painted the iconic portrait.

Found in France, the BBC reports that the portrait, called Monna Vanna, had previously been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci’s studio, and was thought to have been drawn by one of his students.

Monna Vanna, ca 1515. Found in the collection of Musée Condé, Chantilly.
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After studying the drawing, historians now think that da Vinci at least played a role in the portrait’s creation, even if he did not draw the entire thing himself. The drawing has been housed in another art collection, at the Musee Conde du Domaine de Chantilly museum north of Paris, for more than 150 years.

The similarities between the two pieces include how the subject’s hands are placed, and her “enigmatic smile.”

The Mona Lisa is thought to have been a portrait of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a cloth merchant, and Florentine official. Historians believe he commissioned da Vinci to paint the portrait.

The portrait is currently being examined by experts and will not be available for public viewing until their examination is complete.

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