SHANGHAI -- Three different portraits may be hidden beneath Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece the Mona Lisa, a French researcher announced here on Dec. 8.
According to optical engineer Pascal Cotte, he began working on creating digital data of the acclaimed artwork at the Louvre in 2004 at the invitation of the Paris museum. With an originally developed camera and scanning software, he analyzed the over-glazed parts of the painting layer by layer and restored the hidden portraits.
Da Vinci (1452-1519) is believed to have worked on the Mona Lisa around 1503. Cotte says the portrait on the first layer is probably a draft for the famous painting and is slightly larger than the woman we know as Mona Lisa.
On the second layer, a woman closely resembling Mona Lisa is painted, but there is the trace of a hair accessory with pearls or a bobby pin on the right side of her head, which is not painted on the Mona Lisa.
The woman portrayed on the third layer is not wearing a veil seen on the Mona Lisa. She is believed to be an upper class woman in Florence, Italy, in the early 16th century -- the period in which da Vinci's skills flourished.
Cotte explains that it was da Vinci's usual technique to repaint over his earlier work. The researcher believes that the Renaissance genius employed such a painting technique because he pushed himself for perfection.