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The Mona Lisa
Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci
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Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci

Anchiano, 1452 - Amboise, 1519

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The Mona Lisa

1507 - 1516. Oil on walnut panel.
Room 052B

This version of the Mona Lisa (Louvre) was painted by one of Leonardo’s pupils. The fact that each pentimento, or change, in Leonardo’s original (to the bust, outline of the veil and position of the fingers) is repeated here suggests that the two works were created simultaneously. There are also differences with respect to the original, in the unfinished landscape and on the face. Overall, the panel seems to reflect an intermediate stage in the creation of the Louvre painting.

A comparison of the infrared reflectograms of the two panels reveals identical details concealed beneath the surface, particularly in the creation of the figures, which illustrates a parallel working process and reveals that the copyist reproduced much of the process of elaboration with which the Louvre painting was created, albeit without aiming to imitate it. The figures are identical in size and shape and were transferred by tracing, undoubtedly from the same cartoon. The preparatory underdrawing of the original reveals the principal lines of the setting and intermediary phasesin the execution that are repeated in the copy, which has very precise underdrawing and is drawn up using different materials and implements. In the copy, some of the transferred outlines were reinforced and corrected freehand and there are visible lines of free drawing that are not related to the forms on the surface or to the underlying ones in the original. Rather, they reflect hesitations and trials by the artist of this panel and refer to a more complex process than that of a mere copy. There is also one more important fact: many of the “pentimenti” detected in the original (significant or minor) are repeated in the underlying image on the panel in the Prado. They include an identical change in position to the outline of the two heads in relation to the painted surface and slight adjustments to the outline of the right cheek and neck. These modifications could have happened in either direction: not only did the pupil make corrections while the master was working on and refining the original but some of the pupil´s errors may have suggested adjustments to Leonardo for his own work, particularly in the landscape which is notably simplified with regard to the initial one, as the Prado panel reflects. Only someone working alongside the master would have witnessed the adjustments that he made to the work in progress.

As was habitual in Leonardo´s studio, the materials are of extremely high quality and have survived in almost perfect condition. With the exception of the type of wood, which is walnut in the copy and poplar in the original, the other materials and the creation of the underlying work is similar. Both paintings have an oil-based, whiteish ground while the Prado´s has a orangeish priming, also with an oil binder, of a tone similar to that observed in works by Leonardo and the Milan studio. In formal terms, the two works are the same but the Prado panel is not comparable to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in terms of quality and handling. The method of applying the paint is one of the most significant differences and the one that defines the final image of the sitters.

The Prado panel is a carefully painted portrait and despite its overall hardness, it has very subtle details that can be perceived from close up on the lips and hands. The copyist did not imitate Leonardo´s handling and aimed to dissimulate his brushstrokes, which are only perceptible in the unfinished areas and, under a microscope, in the flesh tones. The stroke is also individualised in the underlying, freehand drawing. Another interesting aspect of the pictorial technique revealed by a comparison between the two panels is that the shadows of the flesh tones in the original seem to have been constructed by adding thin, superimposed layers of umber over a reflective white ground. However, the copyist worked in the opposite sense and covered areas of the orangeish priming with a grey wash in order to construct the shadows, allowing it to show through under a lighter coloured glaze. The tonal transition on the cheeks is modified with small reddish brushstrokes.

The landscapes in both works have the same evanescent appearance but the one that has reappeared in the copy is unfinished. It includes rock formations that Leonardo drew in Milan around 1508-11 and which are present below the surface of the prototype. This detail supports the hypothesis that the Prado version corresponds to a moment prior to the completion of the original, which Leonardo modified at a moment when the copyist could no longer see it or that his panel remained in Milan when Leonardo went to Rome in 1513, and could not continue working on it. The copyist must have remained with Leonardo for a lengthy period, specialising in copying the works that the master most appreciated prior to his departure for Rome or France.

At the present time no independent works have been identified by this copyist´s hand. There is no doubt that the imprecision and delicacy of Leonardo´s painting is quite different to the precise technique of the artist who painted the Prado panel.

González Mozo, A, 'Aire de familia' En:, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2021, p.73-119


Technical data

Related artworks

Mona Lisa
Phototype on card, Ca. 1915
Roig Villalonga, Juana
Inventory number
Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci
The Mona Lisa
1507 - 1516 (1507/8-1513/16)
Walnut panel
Height: 76.3 cm; Width: 57 cm; Grosor: 1.8 cm
Royal Collection (Real Alcázar, Madrid, 1666, [nº 588]; Real Alcázar, Madrid, Galería del Mediodía, 1686, s.n.; ¿Real Alcázar, Madrid, Galería del Mediodía, 1700, ¿nº 76?; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, tercera pieza de la Furriera, 1747, nº 195; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 195; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza de tocador, 1794, s. n.; Palacio Real, Madrid, cuarto del mayordomo mayor, 1814-1818, s.n.).

Bibliography +

Inventario Alcázar. 1686. Galería del Mediodía, [s.n], Madrid, 1686.

Inventario Palacio Real de Madrid. 1686. I. Pinturas. Gabinete del Salón de los espejos, III, [s.n], Madrid, 1686, pp. 26, n. 3343.

Inventario Alcázar. 1700. Galería del Mediodía, [s.n], Madrid, 1700.

Inventario Palacio Nuevo. 1772, [s.n], Madrid, 1772, pp. n. 95.

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España: en que se da noticia de las cosas mas apreciables, y dignas de saberse, que hay en ella, VI, Atlas, Madrid, 1794; ed. facs. 1972, pp. 44.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey Fernado VII, Madrid, 1834, pp. 28, n. 393.

Madrazo,, Catálogo de los cuadros del Real Museo de Pintura y Escultura, [s.n.], 1858, pp. n. 666.

Madrazo, Pedro, Catálogo descriptivo e histórico del Museo del Prado de Madrid, Madrid, 1872, pp. n. 550.

Madrazo, Pedro de (1816-1898), Catálogo de los cuadros del Museo del Prado, Imprenta y fototipia de J. Lacoste, 1910, pp. n. 504.

Röhl, J., 'La Gioconda' del Prado'. En: Letras y colores, Cultural, Méjico, 1961, pp. 21-28.

Bosque, A. De, Artistes Italiens en Espagne. Du XIV siecle aux Roix Catholiques, Le Temps, Paris, 1965, pp. 271.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 356-357.

Flanigan, Theresa, Mona Lisa's smile: Interpreting emotion in Renaissance female portraits, Studies in iconography, 1975, pp. 183-230.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: pintura italiana anterior a 1600, Gredos, Madrid, 1979, pp. 71-75.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 364-365.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Ruíz Manero, J. M., Pintura Italiana del Siglo XVI en España.Tomo I.Leonardo y los leonardescos, Cuadernos de arte e iconografía, 1992, pp. 34-36.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura italiana del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1999, pp. 84.

VV.AA., Au coeur de la Joconde Léonard de Vinci décodé, Gallimard, Paris, 2006.

Kemp, M., Leonardo da Vinci : experience, experiment and design, V & A Publicatios, London, 2006, pp. 50-52, 60-62.

Hohenstatt, P., Leonardo, Ullman, Berlín, 2007.

La Gioconda è nuda, JFK Edizioni, Brindisi, 2010, pp. 26-27.

National Gallery Technical Bulletin, XXXII, 2011.

Syson, L., Leonardo da Vinci. Painter at the court of Milan, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011.

Kemp, M.; Wells, T., The Mystery of the Madonna of the Yarnwin. A historical and scientific detective story, Arttakt-Zidane Press, London, 2011.

Albini, Sandro., Gioconda allo specchio : terre Bresciane e Bergamasche nei dipinti e disegni di Leonardo, GAM, 2012, pp. 52-57 f.52.

González Mozo, A., La Joconde, La Sainte Anne de Léonard de Vinci. L'ultime chef d'oeuvre., Officina Libraria-Louvre Éditions, Paris, 2012, pp. 234-239, n. 77.

Carbon, Claus-Christian; Hesslinger, Vera, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa entering the next dimension, Perception, 42, 2013, pp. 887-893.

Mottin, B, 'Leonardo's Mona Lisa in the light of its Madrid copy' En:, Hermann Éditeurs,, 2014, pp. 203-221.

González Mozo, A, 'The copy of the Gioconda' En:, Hermann Éditeurs,, 2014, pp. 194-202.

Hatfield, Rab., The Three Mona Lisas, Officina Libraria, 2014, pp. 50,53-54,58,63,82,88-89,92,99-100,121-122 f.51,f.55-56 nt112.

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 509 nº 741.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, La Gioconda del Museo del Prado (I), Tendencias del mercado del arte, Diciembre 88, 2015, pp. 78-80.

Santos Bueso, Enrique, Oftalmología en el Museo del Prado, Gertograf, 2015, pp. 44.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, La Gioconda del Museo del Prado (II), Tendencias del mercado del arte, Enero 89, 2016, pp. 80-83.

Doval, Mª del Mar, La Gioconda del Museo del Prado, los Médici y los Austrias españoles, Tendencias del mercado del arte, Febrero, 2016, pp. 78-81.

G. Navarro, C.; Perdices, A., La mirada del otro: escenarios para la diferencia, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2017, pp. 53 n.10.

González Mozo, A, 'Aire de familia' En:, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2021, pp. 73-119.

González Mozo, A y Walter, Phi., 'La técnica pictórica de la copia de la Mona Lisa' En:, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2021, pp. 121-129.

Mazzarelli, Carla, 'Moltiplicare, tradurre, interpretare. Riflessioni in margine al ruolo delle copie tra prima età moderna e ricezione storiografica contemporánea' En:, Actas del Congreso internacional Las copias de obras maestras de la pintura en las colecciones de los Austrias y el Museo del Prado. Junio 2017, Madrid, 2021, pp. 17-25 [19].

Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe IV, Alcázar de Madrid, 1666. Núm. [588].

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Alcázar de Madrid, 1701-1703. Núm. ¿76?.
Galeria del Mediodia [...] 76 / Ytten Ottra [pintura] de Vara de altto y tres quarttas de Ancho de una muger de mano de leonardo de Abinzi Con marco negro tasada en duçienttos Doblones ... 200

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 195.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la tercera pieza [...] {10410} 195 / Otra pintura en tabla retrato de vna mujer de vara de alto y tres quartas de ancho original de Leonardo Abinci = 1500 rs

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 195.
Paso de Tribuna y Trascuartos [...] [12830] 195 / Otro [cuadro] en tabla retrato de vna muger de medio cuerpo de vna vara de alto y tres quartas de ancho Leonardo de Avinci

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. 393.
INVENTARIO GENERAL DE LOS CUADROS DE S.M. EXISTENTES EN LA GALERÍA DEL REAL MUSEO [...] ESCUELA ITALIANA / SEGUNDA DIVISIÓN DE LA GRAN GALERÍA DEL MEDIO [fº 410v][...] Trescientos noventa y tres. Retrato de Nonna Lisa, cálebre por su hermosura / de Leonardo Vincy / Tª / 40.180

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 504.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 504.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 550.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 666.
Vinci (Leonardo de) / 666. Retrato de Mona-Lisa. / Celebre por su hermosura, muger de Francisco Giocondo, caballero florentino. De menos de medio cuerpo, sentada, con los brazos cruzados delante del pecho, vestida con una tunica cenicienta ribeteada con trencilla de oro: las mangas de jubon interior son coloradas, y le cubre la cabeza un velo muy fino que baja hasta la mitad del brazo, formando pliegues en el hombro. (C.L.) (tabla) / Alto 2 pies, 8 pulg, 8 lin; ancho 2 pies, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 666.

Inv. Felipe IV, Alcázar de Madrid, 1686. Núm. s. n..
Galeria del Mediodia [...] {265} Otra [pintura] de vara de alto y tres quartas de ancho de vna muger de mano de Leonardo de Abinzi. [Aclaración: Y. Bottineau (BH, 60, nº 1, 1858, p. 50) identifica la obra con otra entrada del inventario, "[113] Otra lamina de vna terçia de alto de vna caveza de vna muger risueña original de mano de Leonardo de Albinçi.", que no coincide ni en tamaño, ni en el material de soporte, ni en la descripción como "caveza"]

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
{22123} Tres cuartas alto dos tercias ancho, retrato de una joven con vestido verdoso mangas encarnadas y los brazos cruzados = Vinci

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s. n..
Pieza de Tocador [...] [324] Otro [retrato] del mismo tamaño que el antecedente [vara escasa de alto y tres quartas de ancho]: retrato de muger con las manos cruzadas. Vinci ... 4000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

no 195
Inscribed in red color. Back, Upper area

No. 55. / Retrato
Handwritten label in black ink. Back, Upper left area

Handwritten label in black ink. Back, Upper left area

[Salon][parcialmente borrada]
Inscribed. Back, left side

Exhibitions +

Leonardo and the copy of the Mona Lisa. New approaches to the artist’s studio practices
28.09.2021 - 23.01.2022

The Other’s Gaze. Spaces of difference
14.06.2017 - 10.09.2017

Touching the Prado
20.01.2015 - 18.10.2015

Sainte Anne de Léonard de Vinci
26.03.2012 - 25.06.2012

Location +

Room 052B (On Display)

Update date: 25-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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