There may be a previously unknown version of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci in a private collection in St. Petersburg, Russia.
"There are many indicators pointing to the Tuscan artistic genius," Silvano Vinceti, who is coordinating the research, told ANSA.
The painting reportedly features a woman exactly like the one in the Mona Lisa, according to the Independent. Many versions of the Mona Lisa exist, created by painters other than da Vinci, but the Russian version may be his genuine work.
Infrared technology is being used to examine the components of the colors in the painting to determine whether it could have been painted by da Vinci.
"But of course it's only a hypothesis,” Vinceti told ANSA.
A preparatory study for the Mona Lisa, conducted by Carlo Pedretti, a da Vinci scholar, that believes the Russian painting may be a da Vinci work is being used by researchers.
"When comparing the preparatory study from the Louvre and the Russian painting, the overlap between the two was clear to see," Vinceti said.
"[It's clear from] the columns, present in the Russian painting and in the preparatory study, but also in the perfect resemblance between the upper lip in the preparatory study, the Russian painting and the Mona Lisa in the Louvre,” Vinceti added.
The Mona Lisa is a renowned masterpiece completed by da Vinci in 1517 which greatly influenced later paintings.
"The entire history of portraiture afterwards depends on the Mona Lisa,” former Louvre Curator Jean-Pierre Cuzin told PBS. “If you look at all the other portraits – not only of the Italian Renaissance, but also of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries – if you look at Picasso, at everyone you want to name, all of them were inspired by this painting. Thus it is sort of the root, almost, of occidental portrait painting."