Italian researchers claim the sketch has striking similarities to the Mona Lisa and Leonardo Da Vinci’s self-portraits.
Already naming it the ‘Holy Grail’ of the art world, the researchers said the previously unknown piece of work was discovered amongst a private collection.
They claim that the chalk drawing of Christ is ‘almost certainly’ the work of Da Vinci.
The researchers said the ‘gaze’ of Christ depicted in the painting is reminiscent of the Mona Lisa, while the beard and mouth area are similar to Da Vinci’s self-portraits:
Their claim is likely to be met by intense scrutiny. The newly-surfaced sketch, in red chalk is currently being held in a bank somewhere in Lombardy by private collectors.
‘It is a remarkably beautiful and refined work and I’m absolutely convinced it is a sketch by Leonardo,’ Annalisa Di Maria, an Italian art historian who has studied the picture, told The Telegraph.
The rendering of the beard is practically identical to Leonardo’s self-portraits, as are the eyes. And the painting is in red chalk, which the artist used a lot, including in the sketches for The Last Supper.’
Maria said the paper on which the ‘Holy Grail’ sketch is drawn has been subjected to laboratory tests, which showed that it dates back to the 16th century.
This would place it in the lifetime of the Italian painter. Born in 1452 in the Italian town of Vinci, Leonardo painted The Last Supper from 1495-1498. He moved to France in 1516 to work for King Francis I, and died there in 1519.
There are lots of elements – the posture of Christ is typical of Leonardo, who rarely drew figures front-on but from an angle, so that they were facing the viewer from a three-quarters perspective. It has that dynamism and sense of movement that is typical of Leonardo.
Once the pandemic is over, a 60-page study of the artwork will be presented at a press conference in Florence.
Martin Kemp, an Emeritus Professor in the History of Art at Oxford University and one of the world’s leading authorities on the life and works of the artist, was hesitant to attribute the work to Da Vinci without evidence.
Leonardo was a great pioneer of red chalk, it was one of his favourite media. I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand but I would need to see if it is drawn left-handed. Leonardo drew everything with his left hand.
Kemp said the dating of the paper would also need to be further analysed, as there is a possibility that the sketch could have been produced by one of the artist’s students.
It would be dangerous to write it off but even more dangerous to accept it at this point,’ he said.
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