Is It Really a Naked Mona Lisa?


Did Leonardo da Vinci Sketch an Unclothed Mona?

Leonardo da Vinci is having an art world revival with the 500th anniversary of his death coming in 2019. There’s a Leonardo di Caprio bio pic on the horizon and a recent new biography hitting the stands.

Now Parisian curators and conservators have come down on the side of an X-Rated Leo. They’ve declared that a sketch, Jocanda Nue, previously attributed to the students of Leonardo da Vinci is in fact from the master himself and does indeed present a naked Mona Lisa.

Reasons It Could Be True

After a month-long series of scientific tests, the Louvre is claiming that the charcoal drawing of the naked Mona Lisa was done by Leonardo “at least in part.”  The nude figure’s hands and body are an extraordinary match to those of Leo’s clothed Mona Lisa.

“The drawing has a quality in the way the face and hands are rendered that is truly remarkable. It is not a pale copy,” curator Mathieu Deldicque told AFP according to The Telegraph.

The scientists claim the drawing was likely done alongside the formal portrait that Leo created of Mona Lisa. It might have been a preparatory study for another (nude) version of the famous work.

C3686 , Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian School. Nude Woman. Study for the Mona Lisa. Pencil on brown paper, 0.72 x 0.54 m. Chantilly, musee Conde. , C3686 , Vinci Leonard De ( 1452 - 1519 ) Ec. Ital. , Etude de nue pour la Joconde ( papier brun ; pierre noire 0;72 X 0;54 ) , Chantilly . Musee Conde
Nude study of the Mona Lisa attributed to Leonardo da Vinci

Skepticism Abounds

The Louver scientists admit that marks of other hands are present on the sketch. It isn’t Leonardo’s work alone and that muddies the waters of attribution.

Further studies and scans of the work will take time. The drawing is particularly fragile, as it was likely drawn around 1503 and was worked on toward the end of Leonardo’s life, along with the Mona Lisa.

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

2 thoughts on “Is It Really a Naked Mona Lisa?

  1. It strikes me as largely a work of imagination and possibly a composite of drawings to create this nude. I cannot tell if done by Leonardo but the hand looks like something of his.The main reason it seems not really drawn from the woman nude is that her breast and shoulder line furthest from viewer seems skewed . For a shoulder sloping that low ,the breast is way too high and joins the shoulder way too high . Both viewed in perspective and their plane is off. There is sort of a formula concept of what a female nude should be rather than an observed view and that often seems the case in Renaissance and earlier art in the case of females. Anybody agree?

    1. I see what you are saying. There is also the fact that in the Renaissance, women models were scarce. As you probably know all of Michelangelo’s sibyl figures were males with the addition of breasts. So it might very well be that Leonardo did not have a model in front of him at all.