London: Art detectives in search of a missing Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece in the Italian city of Florence have found traces of the paint which matches the one used by the Renaissance genius for the Mona Lisa, The Telegraph reported Monday.
According to researchers, the discovery is the first definitive proof that the Leonardo work lies hidden beneath a large battle scene subsequently painted in the same spot by Italian artist Giorgio Vasari.
The findings appear to have solved a 500-year-old mystery even if more work needs to be done. It could represent one of the biggest discoveries in the history of art for decades.
In 1503, Leonardo was commissioned to paint an enormous tableau - The Battle of Anghiari - in the Hall of the Five Hundred in Palazzo Vecchio, the historic seat of government in Florence.
The work depicted a battle between Milan and the Italian League.
It however, disappeared when Vasari was commissioned to enlarge and completely remodel the imposing hall, painting six new murals on its walls. It had long been assumed that the Leonardo work was obliterated.
Following centuries of speculation about whether it may have survived, researchers led by Maurizio Seracini, of the University of California San Diego, drilled a series of tiny holes in existing cracks and fissures in the Vasari battle scene, the daily reported.
They pushed probes and micro cameras through the holes and discovered traces of red, white, orange and black pigment - evidence of a large painting.
His team now intends to carry out drilling in other areas of the Vasari work to see if they can find more evidence of the long-lost Leonardo work.