Earlier this month, a Switzerland-based art institution announced that an older version of the Mona Lisa has been authenticated as an original. This particular portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, da Vinci’s model for the Mona Lisas, depicts a much younger woman. It shows del Giocondo about 20 years younger than she appears in the Mona Lisa currently on display in the Louvre. Not only is the painting of the same woman, but it also shows her in nearly the same position as her portrait several decades later.
This recently authenticated painting is called the Isleworth Mona Lisa, after the London town where it was purchased by art collector Hugh Blaker in 1913. Unveiled in Geneva this past September, the Isleworth Mona Lisa was initially believed to be a copy of the well-known Mona Lisa in Paris. During the period in which da Vinci created these portraits, it was common for admired artwork to be copied. Duplicates of the Mona Lisa were numerous, and when the Isleworth Mona Lisa was shown last year, many dismissed it as a 16th-century imitation.
After carrying out tests on the recently unveiled painting, experts at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology believe that it actually was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. They have concluded that the Isleworth Mona Lisa was painted sometime between 1410 and 1455. This makes it significantly older than the Paris Mona Lisa, which is believed to be from between 1503 and 1506. Alfonso Rubino, an Italian geometrist, is very familiar with da Vinci’s work due to his analysis of the Vitruvian Man. After examining the Isleworth painting, he agreed that it is indeed authentic.