A french engineer and inventor says he has uncovered the mystery about why the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting, the “Mona Lisa,” has no eyebrows or eyelashes. Pascal Cotte announced this week that he has studied the 500-year-old painting using up-to-date technology to look for traces of the missing features. Cotte used a high definition camera which scanned a 240-million pixel image that used 13 different light spectrums. This camera was designed by Cotte himself. This image magnified the face of the 30 inch high by 20 inch wide painting 24 times which detected a single brushstroke of a single hair above the left brow.

With this evidence, Cotte suggets that these features either faded away or were removed during a cleaning process. Other discoveries made using Cotte’s invention include differences in the painting’s fingers. The left hand was originally painted in a different position than in the final portrait. This change was the result of a lap blanket held by the woman who sat for the painting, which is hard to make out in today’s viewing of the painting. This change, according to Cotte, justifies why painters who have copied da Vinci’s work have painted the fingers in this position.

The camera was also able to show a virtual restoration of the painting, with the colors of the painting looking as if they were freshly painted. The background is especially modified upon viewing this detail. Even the Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile was shown to be slightly wider than it is now as is the entire face. The woman behind this famous smile was actually believed to be Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Italian merchant. It is expected that she was 24 while this painting was being done and was the mother of two sons at the time. Da Vinci worked for four years on the painting up until his death. Though it is unsigned and undated, it is one of Da Vinci’s most famous works.

Cotte’s results are now on display at the Metreon in San Francisco as part of the “Da Vinci: An Exhibition of Genius” exhibit.

For related articles visit http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/17/monalisa.mystery/index.html and http://www.monalisamania.com/faq.htm.

Be Sociable, Share!