There may be hidden paintings underneath the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa has enthralled the world for over 500 years, but a french scientist has just revealed something huge about the painting. Pascal Cotte claims to have discovered three hidden paintings beneath the surface of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece. That’s right, he claims there are paintings underneath the actual Mona Lisa — a work of art viewed by 8.8 million people each year.

According to Cotte, one of the hidden paintings is likely to be an authentic portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the woman thought to be the real Mona Lisa, and also known as Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine merchant. According to CNN, Cotte claims that it reveals a woman “looking off into the distance.” Her trademark smile is notably absent. The other two portraits portray a woman who looks quite different than the famed heroine of art history, according to Gizmodo.

To see beneath the surface of the painting, Cotte spent 10 years using a multispectral camera to project intense lights onto the painting while measuring the reflections, which helped to expose anything that happened between the paint layers.

“My scientific imagery technique (L.A.M.) takes us into the heart of the paint-layers of the world’s most famous picture and reveals secrets that have remained hidden for 500 years,” Cotte said in a press conference in Shanghai on Tuesday. “The results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo’s masterpiece forever.”

But the revelation is not without controversy.

Arts Editor Will Gompertz told BBC, “I’m skeptical. . .This is the world’s most famous painting which, like a celebrity, always makes for a good story. But in this case I think caution is required.”

The Louvre declined to comment because it “was not part of the scientific team” examining the portrait.

Still Cotte’s findings are drawing massive amounts of attention. They will be included in the exhibition, Da Vinci – The Genius, which opens in Shanghai this week, and will feature displays of his research on the Mona Lisa over the last 11 years.

The world’s most famous and mysterious painting may have just gotten a whole lot more mysterious.

(Featured images via Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock)