AFTER being alone in the Louvre for more than three centuries, the Mona Lisa may have a younger sister - although experts have hugely conflicting views on whether the latest portrait was actually painted by Leonardo da Vinci.
Called the Isleworth Mona Lisa after the London borough where its former owner lived, the painting has been authenticated by experts hired by the Swiss art foundation which now owns it.
It has been kept in a Swiss bank vault for the past 40 years and shows a significantly younger version of the woman with the enigmatic smile.
The foundation says that it has had the canvas carbon dated to the same time period - around 1516 - that Leonardo was working on the painting and an Italian geometrist had confirmed it was typical of Leonard's work. Studies had also confirmed that the brush strokes matched those of the Louvre artwork.
However, experts have refuted the claims with one, in Nouvel Observateur magazine saying that the fact the painting was on canvas was enough to rule it out as Leonardo's craftsmanship.
Art historian Laure Fagnart, a Leonardo specialist, said that the Mona Lisa was painted on a wooden panel, as was the well-known Lady with an Ermine, and Da Vinci never used canvas.
The controversy comes a week after an amateur art-lover found what is thought to be the missing head from Gustave Courbet's explicit artwork The Origin of the World. He could make up to 35 million euros from his find.
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Photo: Mona Lisa Foundation