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Friday, October 16, 2009

Fingerprint on Vellum Portrait may Belong to Leonardo da Vinci

What can be a major discovery in the last one hundred years of a work by Leonardo da Vinci, has been recently announced to the public.
Sold at Christie's New York as " Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress" and catalogued as "German, early 19th cantury" for $19,000 to art dealer Kate Ganz who kept it for 12 years before selling it on for a similar price in 2007 to a swiss art collector, the 13in by 9in (33cm x 24cm) chalk, pen and ink on vellum portrait, mounted on an oak board, may have been painted by da Vinci.
A fingerprint was found at the top left by the forensic art expert Peter Paul Biro and compared to one found on "St. Jerome", a Leonardo's work kept at the Vatican, when the artist is not known to have assitants.
A palm-print on the neck is also consistent with da Vinci's use of his hands to create shading and texture.
The claim made by Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at Oxford University, is backed by tests done with a "multispectral" camera from Lumière Technology of Paris and by the carbon-14 analysis of the vellum, carried out by the Institute for Particle Physics, in Zurich, which resulted in a date range between 1440 and 1650.
Infrared analysis also reveals that drawing and hatching were made by a left-handed artist.
Professor Kemp believes that the sitter is Bianca Sforza, daughter of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan (1452-1508) and his mistress Bernardina Corradis. He suggests that the portrait may be dated from around 1496, when aged 13 or 14 she married Galeazzo Sanseverino, the Duke's army captain and a Leonardo's patron.
No other artwork on vellum by Leonardo da Vinci is known, however the artist had inquired the french artist Jean Perréal about techniques using coloured chalk on vellum.
Should these tests be proved reliable, the artwork that was previously sold for $19,000 is now valued at £100 million, according to London dealer Simon Dickinson.
The portrait is due to go on display at the Eriksbergshallen, Gothenburg, included in the exhibition called "And There Was Light: The Masters of the Renaissance Seen in a New Light".
Earlier this year, a portrait thought to be of Leonardo da Vinci was found by Nicola Barbatelli in a private collection of an aristocratic familiy from Acerenza, a town near Potenza in Basilicata.
A research commissioned by the owner's agent is available for reading.
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