A charcoal sketch of a naked woman could be an early drawing of the Mona Lisa, French art experts have confirmed.
The drawing of a nude woman, known as Joconde Nue, has previously been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci’s studio.
Now experts at the Louvre Museum in Paris are analysing the portrait to establish whether da Vinci himself drew it before moving on to the Mona Lisa.
Curators currently believe the sketch is “at least in part” by da Vinci, whose 16th century masterpiece is one of the most famous pieces of art in the world.
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Curator Mathieu Deldicque told AFP news agency: “The drawing has a quality in the way the face and hands are rendered that is truly remarkable.
“It is not a pale copy. We are looking at something which was worked on in parallel with the Mona Lisa at the end of Leonardo’s life.
“It is almost certainly a preparatory work for an oil painting.”
But while both portraits are similar in size and their hands and body are almost identical, it appears that at least some of the drawing had been worked on by a right-handed artist, while da Vinci was left-handed.