We saw several masterpieces but one of my favourites was the completed restoration of a work that was likely painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci's apprentices alongside the Renaissance master in his workshop. It is the oldest and most important copy of the Mona Lisa. For years the copy, which shows a younger and brighter version of the face that has captivated crowds for centuries, was believed to be one of dozens of replicas made long after Leonardo's death. The painting has belonged to the Prado ever since the museum was founded in 1819 with the Spanish royalty's art collection. It had a background covered in black and a frame believed to be of oak, frequent in the work of northern European artists. Experts began a technical study of the copy when the Louvre requested it two years ago for an exhibition opening next month. They found it had been painted on walnut, just like the Mona Lisa, and infrared images showed traces of background mountains just like in the original painting. Unlike the Mona Lisa, there were no crowds around the picture but it was still fascinating all the same. The picture is believed to be that of Lisa Gherardini, the Mona Lisa. We were lucky to see it today as soon it will travel to Paris to sit next to the Mona Lisa. More studies of the picture will be made there to try to determine which of Leonardo's students was responsible for the painting.
There were some outstanding pieces including a map showing the American continent showing geographical discoveries between 1492 and 1500. It was probably used to show the King and Queen, who had sponsored the trip. I found it really fascinating and I'm sorry I didn't buy a copy of it. My favourite exhibit was a giant globe showing the world in the sixteen hundreds. It is quite accurate in some places but North America is still left fairly blank or at least open to some speculation. This globe was quite beautiful.
We tore ourselves away from the Naval Museum and walked toward Plaza del Sol admiring the truly grand buildings on our way. One building was topped with giant horses and charioteers. It certainly is a feast for your eyes walking in Madrid. Spain had such wealth at one time.
It was a cold walk back to the hotel in zero degree weather to plan for tomorrow. In fact we saw a few flakes of snow.