Art experts recently called in by the Museum du Louvre in Paris to take another close look at the signature on a famous oil painting they have there, that of the 'Mona Lisa', after they'd noticed something unusual about it say the experts have now confirmed that the signature on the painting, if it was originally meant to be a signature at all, is not that of 'Leonardo Da Vinci'. They are simply the words 'Leonard's dad Vince'.
Art historians searching through the archives for any reference to an artist by the name of Vince at the time when it is believed to have been painted in Florence (circa. 1503-1519) say they have found a Florence church record for the period showing a painter who lived there by the name of Vincent Smith. However, his occupation is not listed as 'artist' but as 'painter and decorator'. It seems Vincent Smith was an English immigrant who'd settled down to live in Florence with his Italian wife Maria earning his living by painting and decorating people's homes. Of major significance is that on a gravestone in the church where the records were discovered are the names of three people buried there. The first name reads that of a Vincent Smith(1458-1539). Immediately under that is the name of Vincent's wife, Maria Smith (1459=1545), and then finally under Maria comes the name of their son Leonard Smith(1478-1556).
So could this be a family grave for a Smith family? And did that family of Smith's include the artist who really painted the Mona Lisa?
"We'll probably never know for sure" admits British art expert Paul Smiles. "And in a way I think that's probably for the best." he says.
"We should just admire the painting for what it is, a masterpiece, and not be concerned about who did or did not paint it. It's still a wonderful work of art. Let's just be thankful that Vince Smith found the time to paint it in addition to his busy weekday job of painting and decorating."
Art experts say that if anything the value of the Mona lisa will likely quadruple because as far as is known it is the only work of Vincent Smith's in existence.
"But there is still a mystery remaining," says Mr Smiles. "The signature of 'Leonard's dad Vince' is rather odd. Did his son Leonard sign it? Then why not write something like 'Painted by my dad Vince Smith'? Or if Vince himself signed the painting then why did he write 'Leonard's dad Vince'?".
"There is another explanation we must consider," he says. "Perhaps this wonderful work of art was painted neither by Leonardo Da Vinci OR Vince Smith. It could be the son Leonard was the oil painter in the family, and that it isn't meant to be a signature at all. It could be the intended title of the portrait painting. In other words, when we look at The Mona Lisa it could be that what we're really looking at is a portrait of Leonard's dad Vince?"