Leonardo da Vinci may have been prevented from finishing the Mona Lisa after a severe fainting episode left him with nerve damage and a ‘claw’ hand.
A new study claims the Renaissance master was unable to hold a paintbrush because of the injury.
A portrait of the artist shows his right arm bundled in clothing like a bandage and ‘suspended in a stiff, contracted position’.
Academics and experts scrutinised a red chalk portrait of da Vinci by artist Giovan Ambrogio Figino.
The 16.3 inch by 11.1 inch portrait showed da Vinci with his right hand in an unusual position.
According to experts writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, it was likely left useless after nerve damage suffered from a fall.
It is believed the ambidextrous artist drew with his left hand, but painted with his right.
Researchers now claim the ailment may be behind the unfurnished masterpiece, which now sits in the Louvre.
They say it was not a stroke, as many believe, which robbed him of his physical talents and affected the right side of his body.