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Possible Leonardo da Vinci painting discovered in Swiss bank vault

October 04, 2013|By David Ng | A correction has been added to this post, as indicated below.
  • Leonardo da Vinici's sketch of Isabella d'Este, which is at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Experts believe a painting based on the sketch has been discovered in a Swiss bank vault.
Leonardo da Vinici's sketch of Isabella d'Este, which is at… (De Agostini / Getty Images )

A portrait of a woman believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci has been discovered in the vault of a Swiss bank, according to a report in the Italian press. But doubt exists over the piece's authenticity and additional research still needs to be completed.

The piece -- a painting of a Renaissance noblewoman named Isabella d’Este -- was discovered amid a collection of hundreds of items belonging to an Italian family, according to a report in Italy's Corriere Della Sera.

The portrait is believed to be a finished version of a sketch by the artist that is now at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

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The sketch is believed to have been created between 1499 and 1500, according to the Louvre. A subsequent painting based on the sketch would have had to have been completed after that.

Experts told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that carbon dating places the painting's probable date of creation between 1460 and 1650. 

Carlo Pedretti, a professor emeritus of art history at UCLA, told the newspaper that "there are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo." He said that more analysis needs to be completed to determine to what extent the artist's pupils contributed to the work.

But another expert has put a question mark on the piece's authenticity. Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at Trinity College, Oxford, told Britain's Daily Telegraph that Leonardo Da Vinci preferred to paint on wood and that the discovered portrait was created on canvas.

"You can’t rule out the possibility but it seems unlikely," Kemp told the newspaper.

[For the record, Oct. 4, 2:10 p.m.: A previous version of this post misspelled the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera’s name as Corrierre della Serra.]


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