Hi-tech scanners uncovered the secret drawings that are beneath Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous ‘Virgin of the Rocks’
It begs the question ‘why did da Vinci cover up his original painting?’
Experts believe it was composed before 1508.
The technology revealed zinc had been used in the sketches – making them visible under the light.
Dr Catherine Higgitt, of the National Gallery in London, explained: “Before, we were getting very weak signals from the zinc within the painting due to its overlap with other elements.
“But the algorithm has given us more confidence in the signals that relate to the underdrawing.”
Da Vinci actually painted two Virgin of the Rocks in his lifetime.
The sketches were found by experts using infrared light that shows a winged angel holding the infant Jesus in a find that has stunned the art community.
Professor Pier Luigi Dragotti, of Imperial College London, said: “It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
“But such a great feeling to see the wings and head finally uncovered.”
Most incredibly, Jesus is actually invisible to the human eye and can only be seen using macro X-ray fluorescence scanning, which activates chemical elements in the paint.
This isn’t the first signal that the “Virgin of the Rocks” hid older sketches that might have led to a different masterpiece. A similar effort, using infrared light in August 2019, revealed a sketch of a different Virgin Mary posed higher in the frame, as Live Science previously reported. But this new scan of the painting using a technique called macro X-ray fluorescence — as well as a new algorithm to interpret the data — revealed the head of this unseen baby Jesus and wings of the hidden Angel as well.