Five hundred years after his death, we’re still making surprising discoveries about Leonardo da Vinci. Thanks to a new imaging technique, researchers have discovered a new drawing hidden underneath the coats of paint in one of his most famous paintings, ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ which was revealed by the National Gallery in London in a press release.
According to experts, these sketches certainly contributed to the artist’s prior work. But where this case differs is the fact that the original version seems very different from the finished version that you know today.
‘Why Leonardo abandoned this first composition still remains a mystery,’ reveals researchers.
Since these drawings were made in a material containing some zinc, scientists were able to use a technique called ‘macro X-ray fluorescence’. But that’s not all: they also combined this method with several innovative techniques.
These other methods are called infrared and hyperspectral imaging, and they made it possible for scientists to identify the existence of this sketch from as early as 2005. The macro X-ray fluorescence was used to identify shimmering elements such as zinc, by bombarding them with X-rays. And scientists used hyperspectral imaging to detect electromagnetic energy.
According to the National Gallery, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece still has lots of secrets to reveal. It will be the central piece in an exhibition that will be open from 9th November this year to 12th January next year.