Family clearing out house discover what experts believe is the earliest known work of Da Vinci

"We have plenty of works produced by Leonardo in his later years, such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But this provides an insight into the artist as a very young man."
July 8, 2018 10:11 am Last Updated: July 8, 2018 10:11 am

There are some things that are beyond an expert’s valuation. Due to their historic and cultural significance, ascribing a monetary number to them is simply impossible.

Most of those items are works of art, typically originating from one of history’s great masters. Many are encased behind glass in prestigious museums, but it seems some are still floating around in obscurity.

The descendants of an aristocratic Italian family were cleaning out a house they owned.

An unnamed aristocratic family from the Italian town of Ravello was cleaning out a house they owned. They found a number of old items in the house, but one appeared to stand out from the rest.

“Thankfully, they realised it was something that shone a bit brighter than the other things they found when cleaning out the house, and that is when they called us,” respected expert Professor Ernesto Solari said to CNN.

The family had found a painting on a majolica glazed tile, a popular art form in Europe in the 15th century. When historians and researchers got a look at what they’d found, they were shocked.

Wanting to take their time before announcing their results, the tile has been subject to scientific scrutiny for the last three years. In June, experts revealed their incredible findings.

Experts believe the painting was done by an 18-year-old Leonardo Da Vinci in 1471.

The painting is titled “The Archangel Gabriel,” and after exhaustive research, experts are confident it was made by a young Da Vinci. The painted tile would be his earliest work in known existence.

“We have plenty of works produced by Leonardo in his later years, such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper,” Solari said to The Sun. “But this provides an insight into the artist as a very young man.”

Majolicas were typically not signed. But scientists discovered a small signature along the angel’s jawline which they have attributed to Da Vinci.

“The protocol of the time was not to sign majolicas like this,” Solari said. “Perhaps that is why it is so small … any larger and it would have spoilt the aesthetic of the painting.”

The artwork is considered priceless.

Handwriting expert Ivana Rosa Bonfantino compared the signature on the painting to other known Da Vinci signatures and said it was a “very close match.” She pointed to the small “1” in the date, as well as the initials LDV.

“My conclusion is that the writing on the face of the Archangel was done by a young Leonardo,” Bonfantino said to The Sun.

What is next for the painting is uncertain. It still belongs to the original family, though Solari expressed hope that it won’t stray too far from its country of origin.

“My hope is that it remains in Italy — it is part of our national heritage,” said Solari. “This piece is the earliest work of Leonardo and has his earliest known signature — it is priceless.”