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Mona Lisa copy gives insight on original

Sept. 23, 2006 at 2:48 PM

LONDON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Scholars say a copy of the enigmatic Mona Lisa, scheduled to go on display at London's Dulwich Picture Gallery, may show what the original once looked like.

In fact, the copy is of such high quality that onetime owner Sir Joshua Reynolds thought it was the real thing, The Guardian said Saturday. Scholars agree that Reynolds' Mona Lisa -- given to him about 1790 by the Duke of Leeds -- likely was painted by an anonymous French artist a century after Leonardo da Vinci completed the masterpiece.

The original Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre has lost its color because of Da Vinci's painstaking layering technique and because of deterioration over the years, The Guardian said. The Reynolds' piece was painted in a more traditional manner and has suffered less.

Scholars note that a number of early copies of the Mona Lisa still exist, The Guardian said, suggesting that the painting became well-known quickly.

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