MADRID (AP) — Spain's Prado Museum says it has a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" that was painted at the same time as the original in the same studio, perhaps making it the earliest replica of the masterpiece.
A museum spokeswoman said the work was painted alongside the 16th century original that now hangs in the Louvre in Paris. It was done by one of da Vinci's key students.
The Prado said it had no idea of the significance of its copy of the "Mona Lisa" until a recent restoration revealed hidden layers.
There are dozens of surviving "Mona Lisa" replicas from the 16th and 17th centuries. The Madrid version has the same female figure but prior to the restoration lacked the landscape background and was covered over with paint and varnish.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.