The discovery of a long lost painting by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci is always headline news in the art world. But this particular painting has prompted experts to jump ahead of an official announcment, by agreeing the work is most certainly by the Renaissance artist. The Carbon dating and infrared analysis of the painting have backed up speculation and attribution of the canvas. Also a 500 year old fingerprint of the artist is clearly on the surface of the artwork. The fingerprint, found near the top left corner of the work, is apparently similar to a fingerprint on Leonardo’s St Jerome in the Vatican.
A pencil sketch in the Louvre drawn by Da Vinci, in Mantua, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, in 1499 has been linked to this finished masterpiece. The subject is thought to be that of Isabella d’Este, Marchesa of Mantua, a distinguished Italian noblewoman and a afflatus of the artist. The sketch for the painting is currently on display at the Louvre in Paris. But, like da Vinici’s “Battle of Anghiari,” a finished version has never been found,until now.
Martin Kemp, a history of art professor at Oxford University,has stated that “the portrait is by Leonardo” and he has written an unpublished 200-page book about it. He added, “I first thought the find was “too good to be true – after 40 years in the Leonardo business, I thought I’d seen it all”. But gradually, “all the bits fell into place like a well-made piece of furniture. All the drawers slotted in,” he stated to the Times.
The canvas which measures a mere 33cm x 22cm (13in x 9in) was for many years thought to be of 19th century German origin. It sold at Christies New York in 1998 for a mere £12,000. If it were to go onto the market as a Da Vinci today, it is estimated to be valued at £80- £100 million. The current owner the Canadian-born collector Peter Silverman, who purchased the painting in 2007 told the Times; when he first saw the picture, “my heart started to beat a million times a minute. I immediately thought this could be a Florentine artist. The idea of Leonardo came to me in a flash”.