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Many of the drawing’s pigments were analyzed, and it was determined that none of them had been invented after Leonardo’s time period.

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In the nineteen-thirties, the notorious Dutch forger Han van Meegeren, who produced at least nine fake Vermeers, used a canvas from the seventeenth century that still had its original stretcher.

(Like many forgers, Van Meegeren insisted that he was “driven by the psychological effect of disappointment in not being acknowledged by my fellow artists and critics.”)Further pitting the powers of perception against the powers of deception are genuinely old forgeries, which would not be exposed by radiocarbon dating and pigment analysis.

He looked closely at the shading—it seemed to have been drawn with a left hand, just as Leonardo had done. A major work by Leonardo had not been discovered for more than a century.

This drawing had no clear provenance—a trail of invoices, catalogue listings, or other records that can allow a work to be traced back to an artist.

Kemp, who is in his sixties, is an emeritus professor of art history at Oxford University, and has spent more than four decades immersed in what he calls “the Leonardo business,” publishing articles on nearly every aspect of the artist’s life.