Early copy of Mona Lisa found  FEB 02 2012

Mona Lisa

Restorers at the Prado Museum in Madrid, working on what they thought was a 16th or 17th century replica of the Mona Lisa, have discovered that the painting was actually done by a student of Leonardo's at the same time as the original.

Museum experts are in the process of stripping away a cover of black over-paint which, when fully removed, will reveal the youthfulness of the subject they say. The final area of over-paint will come off in the next few days.

The original "Mona Lisa" hangs in the Louvre but the sitter looks older than her years as the varnish is cracked. The painting is so fragile that restoration or cleaning is deemed too risky. The Prado version, however, will show the sitter as she was: a young woman in her early 20s.

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