A new high-tech study of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa suggests that the Renaissance master created the painting using a previously unknown preparatory sketch.

The faint traces of a charcoal underdrawing, visible thanks to multispectral analysis, are evidence of the spolvero technique, in which the artist pricks tiny holes along the outlines of the drawing and uses charcoal dust to transfer the cartoon to canvas.

The discovery, published by scientist Pascal Cotte in the Journal of Cultural Heritage, was more than 15 years in the making. In 2004, the Louvre allowed Cotte to take photographic scans of the Mona Lisa, and he’s spent the intervening decade and a half tirelessly poring over the more than 1,650 resulting images.
Courtesy of Artnet News
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