It’s the Da Vinci Code IRL
Ever been to the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and thought, ‘Is that it?’ Well, it looks like the answer may be no, as a French scientist has just discovered there may be a hidden painting residing beneath one of the most famous portraits in the world…
Using a projection of a ‘series of intense lights’ on the painting, Pascal Cotte claims that he’s discovered a hidden portrait. Instead of Mona Lisa’s most celebrated smile, the painting underneath depicts a woman sitting and looking off to the side, showing no trace of the smile that has fascinated viewers since the 1500s.
Pascal, co-founder of Lumiere Technology in Paris, was given access to the Mona Lisa in 2004 by the Louvre and has spent more than 10 years developing a reflective light technology called Layer Amplification Method (LAM) to analyse Leonardo da Vinci’s well-known piece. Explaining the process, Cotte elaborated that with his technique ‘We can peel like an onion all the layers of the painting… And can reconstruct all the chronology of the creation of the painting.’
While the identity of Mona Lisa has never been confirmed, it has long been believed that she is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine silk merchant. But with Pascal’s new technology, he believes the hidden painting is Lisa, while the portrait we’ve come to know as Mona Lisa is a completely different woman.
Cue gasps around the world.
Pascal’s also found two more images under the surface, with a shadowy outline of a portrait with a larger head and nose and a Madonna-style image of a pearl headdress.
While the Louvre Museum has yet to comment on Pascal’s work, it has said that it was ‘not part of the scientific team’, with other art historians believing that the findings are just an example of Leonardo’s evolution of the painting rather than a different picture altogether.
Either way, we’re getting some serious The Da Vinci Code vibes from the painting, so somebody better call Robert Langdon. We have a mystery on our hands…