French researcher Pascal Cotte has announced that using scanning technology he's found a second portrait on the canvas of Leonardo da Vinci's legendary Mona Lisa.
Cotte has been analyzing the Mona Lisa for a period of 10 years, and in his latest studies has included an infrared and multi-spectral scanner.
The reconstruction shows that beneath the Mona Lisa's ambiguous smile lies a portrait of a sitting woman looking to the side. The Louvre Museum, which houses the painting, has not yet commented on Cotte's find.
Throughout the past 50 years, the Mona Lisa has become the most widely studied painting by the scientific community. Many believe that the genius Leonardo da Vinci had encoded a secret message in it.
Over the years, researchers have looked for numbers and other symbols to provide clues to any never-before-seen discovery of Leonardo's.
But experts are torn regarding Cotte's claims. Despite the criticism toward his research, the French scientist claims to have used a more unusual technique, enabling him to reach the deepest layers of any painting.
"We can now analyze exactly what is happening inside the layers of the paint and we can peel like an onion all the layers of the painting. We can reconstruct all the chronology of the creation of the painting, " Cotte told the BBC.
He was given access to Leonardo's painting in 2004. Cotte is a pioneer in researching with a technique that determines the characteristics of a canvas, no matter the era of its painting.
The Mona Lisa was painted between 1503 and 1517, when Leonardo was working in Florence. There has been debate over the years as to the identity of the woman in the painting, with most scholars believing it was Lisa Gherardini - the wife of a Florentine painting seller.
The Mona Lisa's gaze and smile are also the subject of research, having been analyzed by art aficionados for more than 500 years now.