Secret messages hidden beneath the enigmatic Mona Lisa were central to the Dan Brown blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code and now the iconic painting is revealing even more of her mysteries in real life.
While in the Da Vinci code, the androgyny of the Mona Lisa is a celebration of the divine union of male and female, in real life things are a little less cryptic, but no less fascinating.
Modern technology has revealed that there are three hidden paintings beneath the surface of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece - one of which is probably the real portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the woman was thought to be the subject of the painting before it was repeatedly altered into the artwork we know today.
French scientist Pascal Cotte explained to be BBC how one of the hidden images shows a woman looking into the distance, with no sign of the infamous smile on her lips and how he believes he has found the genuine portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant.
In order to penetrate the surface of the priceless work of art, Cotte used a multispectral camera to project intense lights while simultaneously measuring reflections to help expose what is hiding between the various paint layers. When describing this technique, Cotte explained:
"My scientific imagery technique (L.A.M.) takes us into the heart of the paint-layers of the world's most famous picture and reveals secrets that have remained hidden for 500 years. The results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo's masterpiece forever."
But what do all of these hidden layers mean? At the moment it is still unclear, but art historians on the BBC documentary believe Da Vinci was looking to portray something universal, they explained:
"So, the Mona Lisa isn’t really the Mona Lisa after all but something much more than that. It’s a painting of life itself as Leonardo had come to think of it, his way of painting us all."
So, it seems like the Da Vinci code was right about the painting being profound, just maybe not in the right way.