A replica of the Mona Lisa, painted more than 400 years ago, sold for €273,000 at an auction in Paris yesterday (November 9).
The price, which includes buyers fees and taxes, is a third more than the painting’s estimated price of €150,000 to €200,000.
The replica is estimated to have been painted circa 1600 and was made using oil on an oak panel, as opposed to poplar wood like the Da Vinci original. It also measures 74x52cm, compared to the original’s 77x53cm.
Despite this, the paintings are strikingly similar. Both use the sfumato painting technique, which includes soft transitioning between colour and allows tones to shade gradually into each other.
Auctioneer Matthieu Fournier called the replica a ‘fascinating version, arguably the best known example to date’.
In fact, Artcurial auction house, which sold the piece, suggests it is so well-executed that the artist may have had access to the original painting:
“It seems reasonable to imagine that this skilfully painted and sensitive copy could have been painted in the same environment as the Mona Lisa, that had been acquired by François I: at Fontainebleau itself, where, under the reign of Henri IV, talented artists from the so-called second school of Fontainebleau gravitated.”
The painting was exhibited in Vienna, Brussels and Paris before being put up for auction at 18:00 yesterday at Artcurial’s Old Master & 19th Century Art sale.
The Mona Lisa herself is thought to have been Lisa Gherardini, a noblewoman and wife of Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo - hence her French name La Joconde. Mona is a shortening of the Italian madonna, which means ‘m’lady’.
The original painting is said to have been commissioned by Francesco del Giocondo and later bought by French king François I in 1518, who brought it to France.
It has proved incredibly popular and was once even stolen in 1911 by a glazier working at the Louvre. It was retrieved two years later when the thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, tried to sell the piece to an Italian art dealer, who alerted the authorities. Peruggia defended the theft, claiming it was an act of patriotism as Leonardo da Vinci was Italian.
The artwork is now insured for US$100million (around €86.57million) and holds the Guinness World Record for the highest ever insurance value for a painting.