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"The artist of this picture was making the same changes Leonardo was introducing into the original," Finaldi said.
Listed in the 1666 inventory of Madrid's Alcazar Palace, the painting, which is close in size to the original Mona Lisa, enjoyed much attention in the past. Attributed to Leonardo himself, it was copied by various artists, such as Gaspare Sensi, known as Gaspar Sensi y Baldachi (1794-1880).
According to Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale in Vinci, where Leonardo was born in 1452, the discovery is extremely important.
The curator of the exhibition Leonardo Da Vinci and His Idea of Beauty, which will open in March in Tokyo, Japan, with more than 20 Mona Lisa inspired works, Vezzosi believes that the author is a Spanish artist.
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Indeed, many Da Vinci inspired artworks spread in Spain at that time.
"Leonardo had several Spanish apprentices, and one of them was in Florence at the beginning of 1500. He was called Ferrando, and has been identified either as Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina or in Fernando Llanos," Vezzosi told Discovery News.