Is There Another Mona Lisa?

Ah, Mona Lisa. Commonly thought to be the single greatest artwork ever made, this painting by respected artist Leonardo da Vinci and the mysterious smile of its model are truly without equal. Or are they, really? As CNN and Artnet tell us, there is another painting that looks an awful lot like the Mona Lisa residing in the Louvre. It's known as the 'Isleworth Mona Lisa' to some, and 'Earlier Mona Lisa' to others — and there are experts who think that it might indeed be da Vinci's early attempt to capture the allure of what would become the most famous painting in history.

But is the Isleworth Mona Lisa truly a sibling painting to the Mona Lisa we all know and love? Did da Vinci truly paint it, or is it merely the work of a disciple or a later copycat? Let's see what the art world thinks!

Is the Isleworth Mona Lisa the real deal?

If the Isleworth Mona Lisa is actually a true Leonardo da Vinci work, it's a potential Holy Grail to its owners. The painting would be worth many, many millions, and the exact amount of said millions depends heavily on whether it really is a Leonardo da Vinci original or not. Its movements can be tracked to early 20th century, and after it went through multiple owners — all of whom thought it was the real deal — it spent most of the last 50 years in a Swiss bank vault, and is currently under bitter dispute of ownership between various anonymous parties. 

As for its legitimacy, the Mona Lisa Foundation (which handles all things related to the Isleworth Mona Lisa for the anonymous consortium that owns it) quotes all sorts of research that they say supports the painting's authenticity, and they're also quick to point out that the painting is way too different from the "classic" Mona Lisa to be a direct copy, and at least one peer-reviewed paper has stated that they're clearly two da Vinci pieces produced at different stages of his life. On the other hand, only a handful of people have ever had the opportunity to truly research the painting, and most leading scholars consider it a non-da Vinci copy. So, who knows? Maybe it will eventually become another Salvator Mundi — another heavily contested alleged da Vinci painting, which became the most expensive painting ever sold in 2017 — or maybe it will merely be the subject of a Dan Brown novel.