- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

ROME (AP) - Experts unveiled Thursday a previously unknown portrait of Leonardo da Vinci showing the artist and inventor as a middle-aged man with piercing eyes and long, flowing hair.

The painting, displayed at a news conference in Rome, was discovered in December in the collection of a family from Italy’s southern Basilicata region. Who made the painting and when it was done is still being investigated, but experts have ruled out it being a self-portrait.

Medieval historian Nicola Barbatelli, who found the painting, said carbon-14 analysis of the wood supporting the canvas dated the material to the late 15th or early 16th century, when Leonardo (1452-1519) was alive.

However, experts cautioned that the age of the wood didn’t necessarily mean the portrait was painted at that time and said more tests must be conducted.

Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of a museum dedicated to Leonardo in his hometown of Vinci, said the painting may have been made much later as it is consistent with the depiction of the artist found in a 17th-18th century portrait kept at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

The newly discovered portrait, partially damaged by scratches and measuring some 60 by 45 centimeters (24 by 18 inches), shows Leonardo wearing dark robes and a black, feathered hat.

It will be displayed along with other portraits of the artist at an exhibition in the southern town of Vaglio, in the “instep” of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula, from April 8 through Aug. 31.

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