In 1998, Christie's art auction house sold a $19,000 drawing to New York dealer Kate Ganz. Catalogued simply as “German, early 19th century,” Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress, (a 13x9" portrait, in chalk, pen and ink on vellum, mounted on an oak board), was purchased by Canadian-born Peter Silverman in 2007. Silverman decided to do some sleuthing into the provenance of his newly-collected, unattributed work of art. His curiosity just may have paid off.
LONDON /TimesOnline/ -- The ghost of a fingerprint in the top left corner of an obscure portrait appears to have confirmed one of the most extraordinary art discoveries. A growing number of leading art experts agree that it is almost certainly by Leonardo da Vinci and worth about £100 million.
Carbon dating and infra-red analysis of the artist’s technique are consistent with such a conclusion, but the most compelling evidence is that fragment of a fingerprint. Peter Paul Biro, a Montreal-based forensic art expert, found it while examining images captured by the revolutionary multispectral camera from the Lumière Technology company.
The fingerprint corresponds to the tip of the index or middle finger, and is “highly comparable” to one on Leonardo’s St. Jerome in the Vatican. Importantly, St. Jerome is an early work from a time when Leonardo was not known to have employed assistants, making it likely that it is his fingerprint.
Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford, is convinced and recently completed a book about the find (as yet unpublished). He said that his first reaction was that “it sounded too good to be true — after 40 years in the business, I thought I’d seen it all”. But gradually, “all the bits fell into place.”
If it is by Leonardo, it would be the only known work by the artist on vellum although Professor Kemp points out that Leonardo asked the French court painter Jean Perréal about the technique of using coloured chalks on vellum in 1494.
[Read More - Unrecognized Leonardo da Vinci Portrait Revealed By His Fingerprint | TimesOnline]