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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 October 2005, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Unseen Da Vinci works go on show
Virgin of the Rocks is Da Vinci's third version of the painting

Two previously unseen paintings by Leonardo da Vinci have gone on public display for the first time in Italy.

One is an alternative version of Da Vinci's famous painting known as Virgin of the Rocks, with the infant Jesus and the infant John the Baptist.

The other shows Mary Magdalene, thought to have been completed by Leonardo with the help of one of his pupils about 1515, shortly before his death.

Both are being displayed at Ancona's Mole Vanvitelliana museum.

The semi-naked painting of Mary Magdalene - on a wooden panel - has fascinated critics and has only recently been discovered and authenticated, says the BBC's Rome correspondent, David Willey.

Previously attributed to Da Vinci's pupil Giampietrino it has been in private collections for nearly all its recorded history in the past 100 years.

The Virgin of the Rocks, painted with Giampietrino between 1495 and 1497, has two other versions - one kept at the Louvre in Paris and the other in London's National Gallery.

Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was thought to have been painted in 1515
The latest version was found three years ago in a private Swiss collection, along with the semi-naked portrait of Mary Magdalene.

Unseen for 50 years, the portrait was believed to have been completed by Da Vinci with Giampetrino's help in 1515, four years before the master's death.

Depicting Mary Magdalene holding a veil over her bare breasts, it is one of the master's very few paintings of a nude.

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