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Known to be a sculptor, curiously no work by the famed Renaissance man had been found – until the “only surviving sculpture” of Leonardo da Vinci was revealed.

Known as the “Virgin and Laughing Child” the small terracotta sculpture features a laughing Christ Child on the lap of the Virgin Mary with a smile reminiscent of the Mona Lisa. da Vinci made it in 1472 when he was 19 or 20 studying under Florentine artist Andrea del Verrochio.

The sculpture had belonged to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum since 1858, but had traditionally been attributed to artist Antonio Rossellino. However, Italian art scholar Francesco Caglioti from Naples University and Leonardo scholar Carmen C Bambach from the Metropolitan Museum in New York are marking an argument it was made by da Vinci himself.

Caglioti and Bambach believe the “voluminous, complicated draperies” in the sculpture flowing over the Madonna’s legs are similar to drawings that Leonardo made at the time “which were almost obsessive studies of abstract folds and shadowy recesses.”

They also believe the Virgin Mary’s smile is the same expression found in other works like the Mona Lisa. Similarly, the laughing Christ Child is similar to drawings da Vinci had done of children.

The “Virgin and Laughing Child” was displayed at the Palazzo Strozzi art museum in Florence and had those viewing it “awestruck” to learn it was made by Leonard da Vinci.

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