He claims the earlier portrait lies hidden underneath the surface of Leonardo’s most celebrated artwork.
A reconstruction shows another image of a sitter looking off to the side.
The Louvre Museum has declined to comment on his claims because it “was not part of the scientific team”.
nstead of the famous, direct gaze of the painting which hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the image of the sitter also shows no trace of her enigmatic smile, which has intrigued art lovers for more than 500 years.
But Mr Cotte’s claims are controversial and have divided opinion among Leonardo experts.