The painting is thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Tuscany silk merchant and is said to have been acquired by art patron King Francis I of France sometime during the 1520’s – either that, or ‘some random’. Painted in oil on a poplar wood panel, the portrait is thought to be at least 2 to 3 years old – maybe older.
The painting was discovered hanging in a gallery at the Louvre Museum by a party of Japanese tourists on their way to the restaurant. One of the tour group pointed out that the painting hanging on the wall in the Louvre was similar to a painting featured in the museum souvenir guide.
Louvre curators Christina Marandel and Elena Giscard confirmed the portrait was almost certainly by da Vinci saying the resemblance of the painting to the one featured in the souvenir programme was uncanny. ‘This is probably the most intriguing art discovery since we came across two marble arms in an old packing case of ancient Greek sculptures’ said Ms Marandel ‘but it looks as though that is one find that will forever remain a mystery’.