A Mona Lisa copy that has recently been cleaned has been discovered to have been painted by an apprentice of da Vinci - corrections made in the copy painting closely match some of those made in the original, suggesting that they were painted side-by-side, the apprentice copying the master.
It seems this version is better preserved than the original - perhaps partly because much of it was covered with a black layer for the past two or three hundred years, for some reason, that has now been cleared away (or maybe it hasn't been on display as much). Also, they don't have to be quite as careful with this one as they must be with the great painting itself, so they've been able to give it a thorough cleaning. So now one can get a better idea of what the Mona Lisa must have looked like when it was new. Here's a side-by-side:
It looks to me like the apprentice executed the copy remarkably well. Slightly closer:
Obviously not completely cleaned yet. But check out those lovely skin tones, and the details in the hair and clothing. And look! She's got eyebrows!
So much red is gone from the sleeves - in addition to the old varnish layer darkening everything, I'd guess the sleeves were glazed with some red lake pigment that has faded from the original, but was partly protected by that black covering layer in the copy.
Telegraph - Mona Lisa feels alive again
Telegraph - 'Remarkable' discovery could shed new light on Mona Lisa
Fox - Spain Unveils 'Mona Lisa' Copy Done by da Vinci Apprentice
I'm excited by the discovery - I think it looks fantastic. And it gives me a better understanding of the great portrait.
I'll crosspost to Portraiture.