Possible Da Vinci Self-Portrait Reveals a Blue-eyed, Blonde-haired Renaissance Man

The only known self-portrait of Da Vinci that is widely considered to be authentic (AP Photo/Leonardo da Vinci).

On Friday, our friends over at Discovery News reported that a (possible) Leonardo Da Vinci self-portrait has recently surfaced. According to the Times Online, the medieval historian Nicola Barbatella was researching Templar Knights and the First Crusade when he happened to come upon the oil painting on wood in Acerenza, Italy.

Experts are hesitant to jump to conclusions yet, however, because they've been duped before. One painting that was thought to be a Da Vinci self-portrait for centuries until the 1930s, when it was revealed to have been painted after his death. If found to be the Real McCoy, this painting will be one of only two known Da Vinci self-portraits. The other is "Self-Portrait in Red Chalk," shown below.

Adding to the case of its authenticity, this new discovery does have a Da Vinci trademark -- on the back are the words "Pinxit Mea" written backwards. According to biographer Barbara O'Connor, Da Vinci's penchant for backwards writing (from left to right) in his notes has baffled historians. They call it "mirror writing" because it looks normal in a mirror reflection. Some have hypothesized that he wrote this way to confuse those who wanted to steal his ideas by sneaking a peek at his notes. Others claim that, as a lefty, Da Vinci could simply write more comfortably from left to right (without the mess of accidentally rubbing his hand through wet ink).

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