Some critics of the painting claim that the ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ is a copy of the ‘Mona Lisa’ in the Louvre. The Mona Lisa Foundation points to the following reasons as to why it is not a copy: Apart from the long-admired sitting position of the subject, the architecture of the painting is completely novel. The foundation is unable to identify any other painting, executed prior to this one, with the same composition. The use of these columns in the structure of this painting is fundamental to the composition. As an element in portraiture, Leonardo had never before utilized this idea. The traces of columns and bases that can be seen today in the ‘Louvre Version’ can be argued to be a later addition (as they cover an underlying layer of background), and never part of its original composition. The sitting position of the subject is angled differently that the ‘Louvre Version’. The subject is leaning forward more slightly, and the body is angled further from the viewer. This sitting position is also emphasized in the neck muscles. The figure in the ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ is clearly younger, and, some say, more beautiful, than the ‘Louvre Version’. This face has never been represented like this in any other painting. The portrait was painted on canvas. If it was a copy of the ‘Louvre Version’, it would likely have been painted on wood. The size of the ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ painting is significantly larger that its Louvre counterpart. In addition, the figure is significantly smaller.

A copyist would likely have made them virtually the same size. A pioneering use of simple Tuscan landscape was employed, without the later embellishments of ‘Alpine’ mountains, or numerous water details. This would not have originated from the ‘Louvre Version’. Tests have shown that some elements were painted with quite different pigments than the rest of the composition. These were possibly added later by a different artist or artists. A version of the original composition is seen in a 17th Century copy in the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo. Details of the embroidery on the blouse are unique, different from those in the ‘Louvre Version’, and from any copy of either. Due to the larger ‘canvas’ size, there is more detail at the bottom of the picture than can be seen in others: a prime example being the chair. Therefore other Mona Lisa paintings, without that extra detail, would hardly have pre-dated the ‘Earlier Version’.

Pascal Cotte has confirmed (January, 2011), the following statement: (the painting) has some clear underdrawings (by the columns and maybe elsewhere) signifying that it is not a direct copy. A copy would likely have been painted by one artist, and at the same time. The ‘Earlier Version’ shows elements that were likely added to Leonardo’s work, by another artist or artists; as well as evidence that this occurred over an extended period of time. A critic recently gave the following explanation to explain why the painting has features different to that in the Louvre: “This is probably because the copyist … just painted it that way”. The foundation’s stance is that this is a slightly tautological argument: to imply that a painting is a copy because that is the way a copyist painted it does not hold much credence and ignores the possible reasons for all the highlighted differences.


The Mona Lisa Foundation’s mission is to make Leonardo’s ‘Earlier Mona Lisa‘ known and loved in its own right, as much as the version that hangs in the Louvre Museum. The Foundation tells the remarkable story of this 500-year-old masterpiece, mobilizes art historians, scientists, forensic artists, and other experts to prove the ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’s‘ authenticity, and Leonardo’s exceptional skills. Read the book that tells the whole story. Examine the painting’s details with a magnifying glass. Compare the two portraits set next to each other. You can learn about the incredible saga of Leonardo’s ‘Earlier Mona Lisa‘ with a beautifully detailed, 320 page book that includes the historical background, scientific testing, forensic expertise and cutting-edge research in art authentication. It took 500 years to make the ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’s‘ story public – when you read the book, you will understand why. For more information or to buy the book we invite you to follow the links bellow.