The art world has been gripped with excitement following the announcement of a discovery that may also solve the long standing mystery surrounding the true identity of the subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting, Mona Lisa.
A group of Nigerian art experts claim to have in their possession an original Leonardo da Vinci painting (pictured above) which may be the real Mona Lisa. According to the experts, the Mona Lisa, currently on display at the The Louvre in Paris is an altered version of da Vinci’s original work.
The original painting, which was discovered at an undisclosed location, bore the name Omo Lisa. The experts revealed that the portrait was painted by the Italian Renaissance polymath as a tribute to Omotola Lisa, an Igbo woman he fell in love with while on a trip to Abyssinia in the 16th century. It is believed Omotola was the daughter of an Igbo king who was sent to the court of the Abyssinian emperor for grooming.
The Nigerian art experts explained that the original painting was stolen from Leonardo da Vinci in the late 16th century and subsequently hidden away until its discovery last month. It is believed that a replica was made by an unknown eurocentric painter who added European features to da Vinci’s work and also changed the name to Mona Lisa.
The Nigerians, who claim to be the rightful owners of Omo Lisa have promised to put the painting on display in Nigeria later this year. They also called on all western museums in possession of stolen artefacts to return them to their rightful owners.
They particularly called for the return of The Bangwa Queen, a Cameroonian religious sculpture which was stolen by a German national and is currently kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This piece of art which is valued at millions of dollars, is the world’s most expensive piece of African art.