Posteado por: Concha Huerta | 05/03/2012

Prado’s Mona Lisa

(Traducción  de M. da Silva. Para leer en español pulsar La Gioconda del Prado )

In January 2012 Museo del Prado in Madrid announced that it had almost fully restored a copy of La Gioconda by a pupil of Leonardo, very possibly painted alongside the master. The copy gives a better indication of what the portrait looked like at the time, as the varnish covering the original is cracked and yellowed with age.

Madrid, 1:00 pm. I enter the Prado museum in search of an specific  painting. I walk along corridors to Room 49. At its centre the recently restored copy of La Gioconda surrounded by an exited croud. The right hand is larger, whispers a French expert lady, and the brows, lost on Leonardo’s version after a poorly done restauration. For a moment I feel as if I were at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

La Gioconda’s copy is framed by golden columns, without glass panels and at a short distance. The young woman holds her gaze with her hands crossed over her lap, the same pose as the master’s, different quality in her look. It’s no wonder since Leonardo’s Gioconda, surrounded by legends and mystery, is the most famous lady  in history.

I observe the background that lightens the composition and places this Gioconda of mahogany curls in front of a gallery open to mountains and blue lakes, with the subtlety of the sfumato, the technique perfected by Leonardo. Said background is undoubtedly what attracts me most to this privileged copy. How wonderful to have discovered it after centuries under a black layer.

Two photographs illustrate the development of the copy, parallel to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. What I wouldn’t give to have been witness to this birth. To listen to the murmurs of brushes over panels, to be enveloped in that universe of pigments and oils, to celebrate each perfect stroke of an unreachable Leonardo. I don’t know if that apprentice ever dreamed of such fame. What I do know is that the Prado’s Mona Lisa is a silent witness to the geniality of the Master Leonardo.

The restored copy of La Gioconda in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The work is believed to have been made by an apprentice of Leonardo’s, possibly at the same time as the original. c.1503-16.

La Gioconda. Leonardo da Vinci. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Prados’s copy of La Gioconda, by a Da Vinci’s  pupil.

Prados’s La Gioconda, detail, by a Da Vinci’s  pupil. La Gioconda (detail). Leonardo da Vinci. Musée du Louvre, Paris

Prado’s La Gioconda (copy) before and after restauration.

La Gioconda, Taller de LeonardoMuseo del Prado. Madrid. Till March 13th  2012. Then it will join an exhibition at the Musée du Luvre in Paris.


  1. Why would Leonardo arrange to have a copy made simultaneously with the original? Read the article, “Leonardo’s Val di Chiana Map in the Mona Lisa”, in the peer-reviewed journal, Cartographica, 46:3, 2011, found at .
    If two copies were aligned, the image from one edge would continue onto the other, forming a newly reconstituted landscape that would match an actual place, namely the Val di Chiana, as mapped by Leonardo, which he completed just before starting the Mona Lisa. So it is more than likely that the two copies and the map were present, simultaneously, in his workshop.
    Two such juxtaposed copies would also form a stereoscopic arrangement. This would be a painterly example of what Leonardo was discussing in his Notebooks under “Differences of perception of one eye and both eyes”. The Mona Lisa and copy could be part of Leonardo’s investigations in stereopsis.

    • Thank you very much for this accure information. It´s a pleasure to have visists from so qualified experts in this field. I am shure the Prado’s Museum responsibles would realy like to know about it. Thanks againg for sharing it with us. Best regards

    • Just read your article. It´s amazing. Thanks againg for visiting my page.

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