M. C. Misiti/Central Institute for the Restoration of Archival and Library Heritage, Rome

Leonardo da Vinci's Self-Portrait Is Vanishing

A renowned portrait of Leonardo da Vinci—drawn by the genius himself in the 1500s—is slowly fading away. Centuries of improper preservation have led to yellowing and browning of the paper on which the red chalk sketch is drawn, Business Insider reports. Now, researchers have developed a nondestructive way to gauge the condition of the drawing by quantifying the chromophores in the paper, the culprit behind its yellowing. Their technique, described online today in Applied Physics Letters, will be used to assess the rate at which the image is degrading to estimate its “life expectancy.”

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