Fingerprint reveals obscure portrait as lost da Vinci work

October 13, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The fantasy of many an art collector has played out to a very happy ending.  Recent history starts in 1998 with an auction at Christie’s, New York, for a 13 x 9in picture, in chalk, pen and ink, catalogued as “German school, early 19th century,” bought for $19,000 by Kate Ganz, a New York dealer.  Unfortunately  for Ms Ganz she sold it for about the same amount to  Canadian-born Europe-based connoisseur Peter Silverman in 2007. Ganz had suggested that the portrait “may have been made by a German artist studying in Italy … based on paintings by Leonardo da Vinci”.

But when Mr Silverman first saw it, in a drawer, “my heart started to beat a million times a minute,” he said. “I immediately thought this could be a Florentine artist. The idea of Leonardo came to me in a flash.”   A Paris laboratory discovered that a fingerprint from the tip of an index or middle-finger, found on the top left of the picture, was “highly comparable” to one found on da Vinci’s work St Jerome, which he painted early in his career when he did not have assistants, according to the Antiques Trade Gazette.  Carbon dating and infra-red analysis of the artist’s technique were also consistent that it is almost certainly by Leonardo da Vinci, which makes it worth perhaps $150 million.

Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford, who recently completed a book about the find (as yet unpublished) has rechristened the picture, sold as Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress, as La Bella Principessa after identifying her, “by a process of elimination”, as Bianca Sforza, daughter of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan (1452-1508), and his mistress Bernardina de Corradis. He described the profile as “subtle to an inexpressible degree”, as befits the artist best known for the Mona Lisa.

Source: Times of London


3 Responses to “Fingerprint reveals obscure portrait as lost da Vinci work”

  1. DocuMaker on October 14th, 2009 5:19 am

    Has this painting been authoritatively identified as Da Vinci’s? Something about this painting doesn’t sit right with me… A bit too cartoonish for Leonardo, don’t you agree?

  2. King Pin Lock on October 15th, 2009 8:37 am

    It is amazing how science can contribute to the authenticity of this painting. Comparing this to the other paintings of Da Vinci, there are indeed some similarities. I pity the person who sold it. But maybe the Swiss collector can give him a a gift or something.

  3. Carlton Hobbs on November 21st, 2009 7:38 pm

    What an amazing discovery!

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