A red chalk sketch recently uncovered in a private collection in Lombardy, Italy, is reportedly a previously unknown drawing of Jesus Christ by famed art master Leonardo da Vinci.
The man in the sketch has a gaze similar to that of the Mona Lisa, one of da Vinci's most celebrated works. It also has similarities to some of the artist's other pieces, including a sketched self portrait.
"It has that dynamism and sense of movement that is typical of Leonardo," Italian art historian Annalisa Di Maria. "The rendering of the beard is practically identical to Leonardo's self-portraits, as are the eyes. And the painting is in red chalk, which the artist used a lot, including in the sketches for The Last Supper."
An analysis of the paper on which the sketch was drawn dates the paper to the 16th century. Da Vinci died in 1519. The work will undergo other tests and analyses in an attempt to determine its authenticity.
A professor of art history at Oxford University said the piece "has got a long way to go" before it should be reported as a true Da Vinci.
"I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand but I simply can't tell without seeing the drawing and the scientific evidence," Martin Kemp said. "I would need to see if it is drawn left-handed. Leonardo drew everything with his left hand."
He noted that many pupils of the painter also created depictions of Christ, and this piece could be one of those.