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Rediscovered sketch appears to show a nudey Mona Lisa

The enigmatic smile makes more sense

Debate has been ignited as to whether Leonardo da Vinci, the artist behind of one of the most famous paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa, actually first enjoyed painting the model in the buff.

A sketch which appears to show a nude Mona Lisa has been cast into the public eye as scientists try to establish exactly who drew it – ahead of a 2019 exhibition to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of da Vinci's death.

The charcoal sketch is held alongside the famous Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre in Paris. It's known as the Monna Vanna, and after a month of tests curators at the museum reportedly believe the sketch was at least in part drawn by da Vinci.

Curator Mathieu Deldicque told the Guardian: “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.”

Italian da Vinci died in 1519, while living in France. He is believed painted the Mona Lisa between 1503 and 1519. 

A recent study at the University of Freiburg answered the question as to whether the Mona Lisa is ‘sad’ or ‘happy’ – she was found to be considered happy by participants of the study 97 per cent of the time.