The Mona Lisa is one of the most enigmatic and iconic pieces of Western art. It has inspired countless copies, but one replica at the Madrid's Museo del Prado is generating its own buzz: say that it was painted at the same time as the original — and possibly by one of the master's pupils, perhaps even a lover.
Juxtaposing the two paintings — and using infrared technology, which works like an X-ray, allowing one to see beneath the paint to see previous, obscured versions — conservators say that Leonardo and the painter of the replica made exactly the same changes at the same time.
The copy brings da Vinci's studio to life — and stirs up questions. Who was this ? According to Bailey, the artist is likely to have been one of Leonardo's main assistants: Melzi or Salai (who was rumored to have been da Vinci's lover).
Side by side, the pictures look noticeably different: The copy is significantly brighter and more colorful; even
Mona Lisa's famously coy smile takes on a new cast.
Bailey says the find will be relevant to historians and laypeople, in that paradoxically, a copy might bring viewers to the original with fresh eyes.