Is this Leonardo's painting of a younger Mona Lisa?

Originally published at: Controversial painting of a younger Mona Lisa purportedly by Leonardo


blablablah. I really cant stand jones. to full of himself. wrote a piece few weeks back, where he made fun of david hockneys and charles falco findings about artists use of opticals instruments in the renaissance. jones didnt seem to had any real knowledge of the subject, just opinions. same here.

could just be a “fast” and early oil-draft, misterrr jones. artists did and do them all the time! yes, I am a fucking painter myself!


Is this the same Jonathan Jones who decided the best way to commemorate Terry Pratchett’s death was to shit all over a lifetime of widely beloved literary work?

Yeah, fuck that guy.


All good points. I have an above average art education, and while I can recognize the real one is better, I wouldn’t use the adjectives to say the other one is bad.

No idea on if Leonardo did it or not, there were a ton of lesser known artists and people making copies of various works, who were still quite competent in their art.

Also, if you’re ever feeling lazy, remember the Leonardo often had to be sued to finish commissions.


Oh right. A fucking idiot then. It’s not actually like artists were hiding this.

The book is great but the old website (think its offline a long time now) was even better.


I find it interesting that (at least judging by these photos) so many minor details are precisely the same in both paintings. Among them are the positions, width, and shading of the fingers, the shapes and locations of the folds on the subject’s left arm, the shape of the drapery on her left shoulder, and the position and shape of the cleavage. These are the sort of things that an artist seldom paints exactly the same way twice. On this basis my guess is that the Isleworth painting is a copy. Why does the Isleworth face vary so much from the Mona Lisa face? Perhaps the artist thought they could do Leo one better by giving the subject a more generic “prettier” face. I suspect the underdrawing for the Isleworth painting was done with the benefit of one of the mechanical devices Mr Jones decries, possibly a camera lucida.


I have never read a single one of his books and I never plan to. Life’s too short.

Wow. It’s a bold move to start an editorial by declaring that you are completely ignorant of your subject matter and intend to stay that way, but there it is.

So I take it this must be the work of Leonardo da Vinci, if this is the argument otherwise? I’ve never seen it before, and maybe I just don’t have any taste in portraits, but I kind of like it too.


I too find Jones to be insufferable, but on this occasion I do actually agree with him - to me that painting looks too much like someone who saw the original and tried to make a copy from memory rather than from any formal reproduction (or from being able to sit next to the original); the background in particular feels very like that - it’s only a vague approximation but it does feel as though it is meant to be the same thing.
Having said that, I don’t think it’s an especially bad copy, but that may be because the original is so interesting that even a copy has merit.

edit: foxwhowood makes a good point about some of the identical aspects though, which does feel as though it maybe wasn’t a memory thing?


Yeah… I agree. Also to my eye the landscape is sort of decidedly de-emphasized too in a way that seems unlikely for the time period. The look of the face and hands also just has a more 19th century beauty aesthetic.

I could be wrong but it just has this quality that makes me think of victorians and the romantic era vs the Renaissance.

I think the differences maybe remind me of this:


I wonder how much getting Leonardo’s name attached to the painting would have on its price at sale; that is, after all, the only true measure of artistic worth. /s


the (great) documentation is still online (second part in playlist);


Thanks for that. Not sure I’ll go back but it’s great to have it for other people. I’ve bought the book several times and the website is genuinely better.


Unfuck that guy; I hope he steps on a whole playset of Legos.


Was DaVinci known for copying his own paintings (even one) but with a few changes, such as the subject’s face, and the background scene?

there is speculation and its funny how the copy resembles the style of the “young” mona lisa;



It’s a technically competent copy (I am assuming) of the original. If we didn’t know about the original, we’d probably be lauding it as an example of renaissance portraiture. I am not sure why Jones is dissing the face. It look like a younger version of Lisa de Giaccondo, a little more plump and smooth than Leonardo’s version, but by no means a hack job. Where the neck meets her shoulder/bust area is little simplified, though.

What I really notice is the fingers on the copy aren’t as well done as Leonardo’s version. Personally I find fingers hard to do: bony, wrinkly, spidery things. The copy is a little too smooth, a little over-simplified in detail and shadows.

Did da Vinci make the Isleworth version as a study or practice run? Maybe? @DasKleineTeilchen points out there is speculation that he painted multiple versions of some of his works. But just as likely it was the work of a student learning da Vinci’s technique by replicating the painting, which was a common practice at the time.

Edit: corrected my inaccurate reference to @DasKleineTeilchen


again, there hints but otherwise thats actualy speculation like a lot about him and his works in general.

exactly, like the copy of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder. thats a hint.

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oh, thats just because he is a pretentious asshole…



that is pretty interesting; the “young” mona lisa as a painting from da vinci, but some time later “restored” by whomever.

e/ actualy, I now let my painter-ego loose and speculate; in my opinion these are more likely early drafts from da vinci than later copys (and depending if the pigment and canvas hopefuly would check out as old enough). and it would make sense especialy in regard to mona lisas somewhat different age; it took years to paint so meanwhile she would age in real life. and I could almost bet he would kept these early drafts for himself, so almost no one at the time knew these “copys” even existed.

just speculating;

I mean, it is noticeable how basic the backgrounds in both “copys” are, right? speaks also for drafts. and its typical for early drafts that faces have a more “comic”-like appearance and da vincis drawings and scetches were often quite caricaturesc.