“Mona Lisa” unveils Leonardo da Vinci’s unconventional painting technique

A recent study has uncovered a rare compound within the iconic “Mona Lisa” painting, shedding new light on Leonardo da Vinci’s experimental techniques. A team of scientists from France and Britain, according to CNN, employed cutting-edge methods, including X-ray diffraction and infrared spectroscopy, to make this groundbreaking discovery. The findings, detailed in a recent publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, point to a unique mineral compound called plumbonacrite within the base layer of the masterpiece.

This rare compound, plumbonacrite, is known to form when lead oxides are combined with oil on a painter’s palette, a technique later adopted by artists like Rembrandt to expedite paint drying. The presence of this compound in the “Mona Lisa” suggests that Leonardo may have been the original innovator of this method, positioning him ahead of his time as not just an artist but also a chemist and experimenter.

Gilles Wallez, a professor at Sorbonne University in Paris and an author of the study, emphasized the significance of these findings, noting that everything associated with Leonardo is of immense interest due to his multidisciplinary nature. It’s another testament to how he consistently pushed the boundaries of knowledge during his era.

While contemporary researchers are unable to sample the “Mona Lisa” directly due to its protected status at the Louvre in Paris, a 2007 microsample taken from behind the frame allowed scientists to conduct a thorough analysis using a synchrotron, a high-tech particle accelerator. This advanced technology enabled them to examine the composition of the paint at a molecular level.

The study also found that Leonardo’s mural “The Last Supper” shared the same chemical makeup in its base layer, further confirming the artist’s pioneering techniques. As we continue to unveil the mysteries of Leonardo da Vinci’s works, it becomes increasingly clear that his brilliance transcended artistic boundaries, encompassing science and experimentation as well.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date