Secret Da Vinci Sketches Found Underneath “The Virgin of the Rocks”

Blueprint of sketches compared to final product. Source:

Researchers at the National Gallery of London uncovered a hidden sketch underneath Leonardo Da Vinci’s infamous “The Virgin of the Rocks” on August 3rd, 2019 after years of seclusion.


Scientists have revealed Da Vinci’s original idea for the mural before he deserted his vision. The two subjects in the piece originally were drawn with completely different features. The angel was drawn with curly hair whilst Baby Jesus had been maneuvered so viewers could see his profile. 



“In the abandoned composition both figures are positioned higher up, while the angel, facing out, is looking down on the Infant Christ with what appears to be a much tighter embrace,” the gallery shares with CNN. The initial sketch’s  purpose was geared towards showing an open perspective of the angel and Christ, whereas the final product conserves the character’s faces.

The sketches were said to be recovered because they were composed of zinc, so macro x-rays could pick up on the traces. New technology consisting of infrared and hyperspectral imaging assisted in the discovery as well. 

* Photo above is tracings picked up from hyperspectral imaging. Image on the right are the tracings of the imaging. Source: *


Da Vinci’s art continues to be honored by many. Although he created many pieces in his time, only 20 can be attributed to his name today. His artwork such as “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper” have paved the way for many modern art techniques still in use today.