Mona Lisa may have the most famous smile in the world, but that smile could be hiding something.
French scientist Pascal Cotte examined the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting and says he found another portrait beneath the visible one by using a method called reflective light technology.
Cotte claims that an earlier painting of a woman’s profile might be the original portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, also known as Lisa Gherardini, the woman thought to be Mona Lisa, according to the Daily Mail.
But there are naysayers, and the Louvre Museum, which displays the panting, has declined to comment on Cotte’s claim.
The mystery behind Mona Lisa’s true identity, how many versions of the portrait there are, and when da Vinci actually finished it are the focus of a new BBC documentary called “Secrets of the Mona Lisa.”
The documentary will take the viewer on a search, utilizing the newest optical, forensic and historical techniques, to analyze new data suggesting that the portrait hanging in the Louvre may not be the original Mona Lisa.
According to BBC, one of the methods used is the layer amplification method, which involves aiming powerful lights at a painting in order to see what lies beneath the top layer. The technique was pioneered by Cotte, co-founder of Lumiere Technology, who was granted permission by the Louvre to probe the Mona Lisa in 2004.
Cotte says his method is capable of finding layers that other techniques miss.
In the latest discoveries from his investigation of da Vinci's work, Cotte says there are three distinct paintings beneath the Mona Lisa which have never been revealed.
The most startling discovery is the supposed third hidden portrait.
Cotte believes he has found the original portrait of Lisa del Giocondo which was painted around 1503. He says this discovery answers the looming question of whether da Vinci painted more than one portrait for the Mona Lisa.
“The results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo's masterpiece forever,” Cotte said. "When I finished the reconstruction of Lisa Gherardini, I was in front of the portrait, and she is totally different to Mona Lisa today. This is not the same woman."