SANTA FE, N.M., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- An alleged Leonardo da Vinci drawing in a private collection, "La Bella Principessa," widely reputed to be worth $150 million and subject of worldwide publicity and a recent book, may actually be a work by the eminent 19th-century German artist Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872), one of the little-known Nazarene Brotherhood of German painters working in Rome who copied the styles and subjects of Italian Renaissance masters.
Most experts in Leonardo's drawings and many noted art historians have rejected the "Principessa" as a Leonardo but the real creator has been a mystery since first reported in The New York Times two years ago. No other artist has been suggested until now.
The surprising discovery was announced by Fred R. Kline, President of Kline Art Research Associates in Santa Fe, NM. Kline, an independent art historian known for many discoveries of "lost art," found a directly related drawing by Schnorr, "Half-Nude Female," hidden in the collection of the State Art Museum in Mannheim, Germany.
Kline's past discoveries include four unsigned drawings and one painting by other "Nazarene" artists now in prominent museum collections, including The Morgan Library in New York and Frances Lehman Loeb Museum at Vassar College.
According to Kline, who also claims a specialty in da Vinci's drawings, "The Mannheim drawing depicts the identical young woman with related braided hair as the 'Principessa,' and it's drawn on the identical vellum as well. Vellum, or parchment, is an eccentric material for drawing which Schnorr often used and Leonardo never used. Two other Schnorr drawings on vellum are at Mannheim. The 'Principessa' recreates the exact woman, idealized in the manner of a Renaissance engagement portrait - possibly a gift from Schnorr to a favorite model. The real question has always been 'who-really-dunnit?' Well, here's the smoking gun and Leonardo isn't holding it."
Leonardo scholar Martin Kemp, principal author of a recent book, "La Bella Principessa: The Story of the New Masterpiece by Leonardo Da Vinci," offers supportive forensic evidence in the book and his own opinion of the drawing's authenticity. "Questionable connoisseurship all around," commented Kline.
Among those who reject the "Principessa" as by Leonardo is the world's leading expert on Leonardo's drawings, Carmen Bambach of the Metropolitan Museum, and Martin Clayton, Curator of the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, the world's largest collection of da Vinci drawings.
"I often challenge myself independently with solving art mysteries, much like Sherlock Holmes might have if he had an eye for art," Kline said. "I have no vested interest here other than the pursuit of truth in art history and a longstanding desire to keep Leonardo's and other old masters' work free of fakes, bogus science, and substandard connoisseurship by people in positions of authority. In the case of 'La Principessa,' let's just say it's clearly an issue of mistaken identity."
Leonardo da Vinci (?) / here attributed to Schnorr, "La Bella Principessa" (Private Collection), 13 x 9.5 inches, ink & colored chalks on vellum: http://www.ereleases.com/pic/2010-Leonardo-alleged.jpg
Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, "Half-Nude Female," 1820-21 (Mannheim Museum), 11.5 x 6.9 inches, pencil on vellum: http://www.ereleases.com/pic/2010-Schnorr-von-Carolsfeld.jpg
SOURCE Kline Art Research Associates