Gherardini "Pretiosa" handbag: Made from calfskin and designed by Leonardo da Vinci

Now it's the da Vinci handbag: Italian fashion house to launch calfskin handbag… designed by Renaissance genius

Painter, scientist and inventor, he was the ultimate Renaissance man.

He deployed his genius across a wide range of subjects from anatomy and biology to mechanics and hydraulics.

As an engineer, he conceived ideas vastly ahead of his time, conceptually inventing the helicopter, the submarine and the parachute.

Precious: Maria Grazia Cucinotta presenting the new handbag at Gherardini's in Florence in Italy which has named it the 'Pretiosa' - meaning precious

Precious: Maria Grazia Cucinotta presenting the new handbag at Gherardini's in Florence in Italy which has named it the 'Pretiosa' – meaning precious

But it seems Leonardo da Vinci, the
man who gave us the Mona Lisa, can also be credited with another
creation – the designer handbag.

It is believed he drew his sketch of
an ornate leather accessory in 1497 while he was painting The Last
Supper.

Now a luxury Italian brand has decided to manufacture a bag
based on Leonardo's design – more than five centuries after his death.

Scholars reconstructed fragmented
drawings of the bag. Their work was then seized upon by Florence fashion
house Gherardini, which made a prototype of the bag.

Brought to life: The original sketch by Da Vinci on which the new handbag is based. Scholars have reconstructed fragmented drawings of the chic Renaissance bag

Brought to life: The original sketch by Da Vinci on which the new handbag is based. Scholars have reconstructed fragmented drawings of the chic Renaissance bag

Leonardo Da Vinci on engraving from the 1850s. He is not known for designing women's handbags

Artist: Leonardo Da Vinci on engraving from the 1850s. He is not known for designing women's handbags

The finished product, named 'Pretiosa' which means 'precious', is going on sale this year.

Art historian Alessandro Vessozi,
director of the Museo Ideale in Leonardo's birthplace, helped to
reassemble the drawing. He said: 'Leonardo designed several fashion
accessories, but this bag is pretty unique.

'It blends beauty and functionality in a very harmonious way.

'The Pretiosa is the expression of
modern technique and aesthetics and, at the same time, embodies a
provocative idea conceived together with the Leonardo da Vinci Ideal
Museum.'

The sketch was first discovered by
Leonardo scholar Carlo Pedretti in 1978 among tens of thousands of the
inventor's drawings, but it failed to attract much attention at the
time.

The refined handmade bag, designed by
Carla Braccialini based on the Leonardo original, is made of calfskin.
It was unveiled at the Pitti W fashion show in Florence by the Italian
actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta, who appeared in the James Bond film The
World Is Not Enough.

Lorenzo Braccialini, marketing
director of Braccialini, Gherardini holding company, said yesterday:
'It's a very chic handbag. It is also very functional and capable. It
embodies the best Florentine tradition of leather work.'

Only 99 of the bags have been made – and will go on sale at the beginning of March.

The price has not yet been set. Given its exclusivity, it is likely to retail for many thousands of pounds.