A charcoal sketch titled The Mona Vanna or, 'Naked Mona Lisa,' its nickname, has been previously attributed to being the work of one of Leonardo da Vinci's students and has sat in the Condé Museum in Chantilly, France, just outside of Paris, for the past 150 years, until now.
Upon its original purchase in 1892 by the last King Louis-Philippe's son, Duc d’Aumale, the sketch was credited to Leonardo. Tests conducted in the 20th century proved otherwise, concluding that it was in fact the work of one of his students. The big controversy here is that the naked woman in the sketch looks strikingly similar to the clothed woman in The Mona Lisa. They appear so similar that it could actually be the same woman, so would that mean it could actually be the work of Leonardo?
Now, we suspect that the Mona Lisa depicts Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine cloth merchant named Francesco del Giocondo, and it was painted around 1503, so the timeline fits for the Mona Vanna. Experts at the Center for Research and Restorations of the Museums of France were recently working on the piece, readying it for the 500th anniversary of da Vinci's death. Mathieu Deldicque, the Condé Museum’s deputy curator, has stated that new findings may suggest Leonardo is responsible for some parts of the drawing, but not all of it.
At this moment, approximately 20 paintings of the 'similar looking nude mona lisa's' exist in museums around the world. The Louve Museum in Paris is the home of the world famous and often pilgrimaged piece The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, and even they are uncertain of many aspects of the iconic portrait such as how long it took for him to paint, why he kept it if it was a commissioned piece, and so on. Louve conservation expert Bruno Mottin told Le Parisian, “The hatching on the top of the drawing near the head was done by a right-handed person,” and Leonardo da Vinci is left handed. However, Deldique goes on to say that, "Monna Vanna’s hands look very similar to the hands painted in the first version of Mona Lisa."
In inconclusive conclusion, the top portion of the sketch seems authored by a student, whilst the lower portion of the drawing could be the work of Leonardo himself. Although vague news, it's not fake news, and for now, The Mona Vanna will not be viewable to the public as it continues to undergo further research. However, Louve curators hope it will be ready and that they will have answers as to the erotic icon and its possible sketch preceding The Mona Lisa painting in time for the 500th anniversary of da Vinci's death in 2019. It seems as though both works will go on to retain a bit of mystery, perhaps without such The Mona Lisa would not be the captivating iconic charm as it is. Conspiracies and mysteries are always a little more appealing than that of history that is black and white. Where there is uncertainty, there is always life. Perhaps Leonardo invented the clothing on The Mona Lisa within the space between his ears. Being a Renaissance man, I cannot see 'early fashion designer' being too far from reach.