A small tile painting is creating a great furore among art-world academics. An Italian professor claims to have unearthed a tile painting of an angel by a 'teenage' Leonardo da Vinci with a coded message from the artist.
The discovered painting piece is the earliest known artwork by Leonardo da Vinci - a self-portrait in which the artist depicts himself as the Archangel Gabriel. Although such hopeful discoveries end up debunked often, if genuine, this painting could be dated back to 1471.
A bold claim was made by Professor Ernesto Solari, who has written extensively on Leonardo at a press conference in Rome. He presented his findings along with a handwriting expert Ivana Bonfantin.
Solaris and Bonfantin concluded their findings through a combination of technical analysis and research. They claim the writing in the painting, apparently visible after infrared tests, revealed encoded inscriptions.
The professor alongside the handwriting expert confirmed that scientific tests date the clay on the tile to 15 th century and declared the piece as invaluable piece Italy's 'national heritage.'
How did they conclude?
The artwork officially belongs to an aristocratic member of the Ravello family, Italy, who discovered it while clearing their property. The scholar says the tile was given to him to analyze, which was given to the Ravello family by the Duchess of Amalfi in 1499 and they have owned it ever since.
What made the scholars conclude that da Vinci painted the work - A hidden writing in the figure's jawline revealed Da Vinci Leonardo.
The date 1471 appears on the work next to the numbers 52 and 72. The scholar argues that 52 refers to 1452, Leonardo's birthdate, while 72 refers to the seventh and second letters of the alphabet - G and B - which refers to Archangel Gabriel.
Solari insisted, "More than a signature, it is typical of the famous puzzles that he loved all his life."
"We have done everything humanly possible to verify its provenance," Solari said.
According to Solari, the piece was created by Leonardo in his paternal grandfather's worship who is thought to have been a ceramicist.
The discovery by Solari and Bonfantin was dismissed by leading scholar Martin Kemp of the University of Oxford.
"The handling of the hair is spectacularly unconvincing—it looks like vermicelli. The chance of its being by Leonardo is less than zero. The silly season for Leonardo never closes," Kemp told The Guardian.
"The quality is not what you would expect from something that was supposedly painted just a year before The Annunciation. There is not a single painting by Leonardo in existence that he signed, although you can't say definitively that he never signed anything," Kemp told The Telegraph.