Leonardo da Vinci liked to hide things in his paintings… even his own self-portrait.
Now some new sketches have been found:
The mystery is set in the Louvre and the clues are hidden behind a 16th-century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci. Remind you of anything Lovers of Dan Brown novels will be salivating at the discovery of three previously unknown drawings on the back of one of Leonardo s major works. A curator spotted the sketches on the back of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne when it was taken down in September for restoration. Sylvain Laveissiere pointed out grey marks that had previously been dismissed as stains. To him they resembled a horse s head and a human skull. When the painting was photographed with an infra-red camera at the Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France he was proved right. On the wood on which the work was mounted was an 18cm by 10cm equine head and a 16.5cm by 10cm skull complete with orbital and nasal cavities jaw and teeth. The camera detected a third drawing a 15cm-high infant Jesus with a lamb which was invisible to the naked eye. A spokeswoman for the Louvre said the discovery was “amusing and moving”. It is also mysterious because the drawings appear to have gone unnoticed for 500 years. “They were not meant to be kept ” said Bruno Mottin from the Louvre s art laboratory. “They had been largely wiped out which explains why no one had spotted them until now.” The Louvre said there was evidence to suggest the sketches – in black stone or charcoal – were indeed by da Vinci. “We re being very careful ” said Vincent Pomarede head of paintings at the Louvre. “But what is troubling is thesimilarity with drawings that are already known.” The skull resembles those in Leonardo s other sketches and the horse s head is reminiscent of those in The Battle of Anghiari – a lost masterpiece known only because it was copied. The baby Jesus appears to be a draft for the figure in The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. Jill Burke an Italian Renaissance specialist at Edinburgh University said “It would be quite typical of his working style for him quickly to sketch out ideas that came into his head on whatever paper – or in this case panel – was tohand.” The Louvre will carry out tests to try to confirm the identity of the author.