Nude Mona Lisa at the Domaine de Chantilly

The Domaine de Chantilly is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci with an exhibition featuring the « Nude Mona Lisa », a mysterious piece that is said to have been created by the master himself.

While the world’s most famous painting, which is displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, hasn't revealed all its secrets yet, this piece, which is part of the collection of the Condé Museum in Chantilly, is enshrouded in mystery as well. Featured in a ground-breaking exhibition that will run from 1 June to 6 October 2019, the « Nude Mona Lisa » is an obscure and little known work whose signature is attributed to the legendary Italian genius.

Nude Mona Lisa on display at the Domaine de Chantilly

Researchers are starting to get to the bottom of this mystery. Studies aimed at identifying the author of the enigmatic « Monna Vanna » have uncovered the history of the sketch, which is the same size as the « Mona Lisa ». This charcoal and paper drawing, which was purchased in 1862 by Henri d’Orléans, the Duke of Aumale, appears to have been created by Leonardo da Vinci or one of his assistants, who was also left handed.

Bartolomeo da Veneto Portrait of a Woman
Portrait of a Woman, by Bartolomeo da Veneto, has become an icon of feminine beauty. © Städel Museum /U. Edelmann
Piero di Cosimo Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci
Painted here by Piero di Cosimo, Simonetta Vespucci was considered the most beautiful woman in Italy during the Renaissance. © RMN-GP/Adrien Didierjean

A fascinating, ground-breaking work of art

The sketch was originally created in preparation for a painting that hangs in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The rendering of the nude model fascinates specialists due to its tracing, which has been reworked and restored over time. It was used as a workshop copy until finally making a comeback. The female portrait provided inspiration to other great masters by setting the standard for universal beauty.

Gabrielle d'Estrées in the bath
Paying homage to the body, this painting featuring Gabrielle d'Estrées in the bath was created in the 17th century by an anonymous artist. © RMN-GP/Harry Bréjat

Shedding light on genre painting through art history