Two years before the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the aging artist was visited by Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona to survey his works. A diary written by the Cardinal’s secretary suggests da Vinci showcased a Mona Lisa portrait different than the one now on display in The Louvre Museum. Published in the early 1900s, this written account of a second Mona Lisa set off a storm of speculation about da Vinci’s most famous work; soon after, the so-called Isleworth Mona Lisa emerged and has remained a tantalizing mystery within the art world. Since hundreds of copies of the Mona Lisa circulate throughout the world, could the Isleworth Mona Lisa be an ingenious forgery – or an unfinished da Vinci masterpiece?
Secrets of the Dead: The Mona Lisa Mystery, airs Wednesday, July 9 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).