October 5, 2013 - 14:49 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A legendary 500-year-old portrait by Leonardo da Vinci has turned up in a Swiss bank vault after decades of debate by art experts over whether it existed, New York Post reported.
The 24-by-18-inch painting depicts Marquesa Isabella d’Este, a Renaissance noblewoman and patron of the arts.
An acclaimed sketch of her by Leonardo hangs in the Louvre. Historians said after he drew it, in Mantua in 1499, the marquesa asked him to do it again as an oil painting.
But Leonardo, who died in 1519, soon took on other projects, including the Mona Lisa in 1503.
Some experts believed that reports that he returned to the marquesa project later in life were a myth. Others believed Leonardo had painted her but the portrait had been lost.
But the magazine Sette reported Friday, October 4 that an Italian family, who asked not to be named, kept the portrait, along with about 400 other artworks in the Swiss vault.
Carbon-dating tests conducted by a University of Arizona lab said it was virtually certain the painting was done between 1460 and 1650. Also, the pigment used was the same kind favored by Leonardo.
Da Vinci expert Carlo Pedretti said, “There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo.”
“I can immediately recognize da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face,” he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
However, he said some additional tests are needed to confirm what he called the “sensational discovery.”
It’s sensational because Leonardo is credited with only 15 to 20 major works, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.