The piece itself was long thought to have been by a 19th century German artist and sold to an anonymous collector from the Ganz Gallery in New York for just below $20,000. The revelation that the piece may likely be by Da Vinci himself has now placed the value of the piece in excess of $150 million.
A number of clues lead to the discovery, including the fingerprint that has drawn the most attention in the media. This fingerprint, said to be comparable to one found on Da Vinci’s St. Jerome housed in the Vatican Museum is the most sensational detail that has drawn comparisons from authors to something out of a Sherlock Holmes novel. Other, less discrete clues include the fact that it is on vellum, is a portrait of the daughter of a 15th century Milanese Duke, appears to be anything but German and has been carbon dated to the period of Da Vinci.
The original "Renaissance Man," Leonardo Da Vinci was an artist as well as a theorist, engineer, and scientist. Da Vinci was one of the founders of the High Renaissance style and had a great influence on his contemporaries and successors alike. Beyond creating art, Da Vinci’s theories and viewpoints concerning the purpose and practice of art have been held in great esteem during his day and for the hundreds of years since his death. Although few of his pieces of art were ever finished, his most well known work the Mona Lisa has become arguably the most famous image in the entire world. Portraiture such as the Mona Lisa and the Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine show the artist’s great grasp of anatomy and skill of representation as well as exhibit the artist’s subtle but innovative artistic personality. The few religious artworks that remain are equally as well known and exceptional, notably the Last Supper.
This new find proves the value of researching potential art acquisitions. Just one minute detail that has been missed for hundreds of years can vastly increase the value of a piece, food for thought for anyone even mildly interested in owning art or anyone curious about a piece that has been in a family for years. MIR Appraisal Services offers research and consultation options for consumers that have not fully explored the treasures on their walls and in their basements and recommends that any collector seek out an appraisal or verbal consultation to establish the true value of a piece.
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Israely, Jeff. “How a ‘New’ Da Vinci was Discovered,” in Time. http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1930431,00.html