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Possible Leonardo self-portrait discovered

A detail of a page of Leonardo da Vinci's ''Codex on the Flight of Birds'' (left) and a sketch made by RAI's graphic department were released yesterday in this combo picture in Rome. A detail of a page of Leonardo da Vinci's ''Codex on the Flight of Birds'' (left) and a sketch made by RAI's graphic department were released yesterday in this combo picture in Rome. (raitre via Reuters)
Associated Press / March 1, 2009
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ROME - A science reporter on an Italian state television program said he has discovered a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci that could be a self-portrait of the artist as a young man.

Piero Angela, a reporter for the "Ulisse" program on the RAI network, told a news conference last week that the drawing was hidden under writing in one of Leonardo's notebooks. A report on the discovery was broadcast yesterday on RAI.

Angela said only a nose was visible under writing on a notebook page. A technician in RAI's graphics lab worked months to isolate the image from a facsimile, he said.

What emerged is a drawing of a young man, with long hair, slight beard, and looking as though he is lost in thought.

Angela said he consulted with two face surgeons in Rome so they could compare a known self-portrait of Leonardo as an old man with the drawing of the young man.

The surgeons concluded there were similarities, as did Italian police who prepare drawings of suspects, the TV journalist said.

The original notebook page is part of Leonardo's "Codex on the Flight of Birds," which is in Turin's Royal Library.

The most authenticated self-portrait of Leonardo is a red chalk sketch that represents him as an aged, balding man with a flowing beard.

It was drawn when the artist was about 60 years old and is also part of the collection at the Royal Library.

The Italian researchers used digital techniques to construct a youthful version of the older self-portrait and compared it with newly discovered drawing.

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