Secret sketches a Da Vinci mystery

When we visited the Louvre in September we had done our research and had a list of the items that "shouldn't be missed." One of the paintings on the list was da Vinci's "The Virgin and Child with St. Anne," however when we located it's "home" in the museum it was missing with a slip in it's place stating it was out of the museum. We wondered what this meant and where it was but continued through the museum, since there are plenty of other things in the Louvre to spend time on. Friday Alan found an article explaining where the painting was and why it wasn't in the Louvre. The article is below and is much more interesting than we expected.

PARIS, France (CNN)
Drawings on the back of a Leonardo da Vinci painting may have been sketched by the Italian Renaissance artist, but only more tests by museum experts will tell.

The Department of Paintings at the Louvre Museum in Paris and restoration and research experts from the Museums of France discovered the images this year on the back of the painting "The Virgin and Child with St. Anne," the Louvre said in a news release Thursday.

The style of the sketches resembles that of da Vinci, but the experts said closer examinations must be done to confirm they are his.

After the art experts began studying the circa 1500 painting, an oil on wood, a conservator from the Paintings Department discovered two barely visible drawings on the back of it -- a horse's head and a partial skull.

Closer scrutiny also revealed another sketch showing the infant Jesus with a lamb.

The drawings, almost impossible to see with the human eye, were photographed with an infrared reflectographic camera, to reveal the underdrawings.

The technique intensifies the degree of absorption of certain pigments, such as those that are carbon-based, which was the preferred material used for preparatory drawings during da Vinci's era.

According to the experts, drawings on the back of paintings is "extremely rare," and none have been found so far that can be attributed to da Vinci.

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