Unfinished Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece comes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A masterpiece in progress never completed provides a rare glimpse into Leonardo da Vinci's creative process.

"We have incredible insight into Leonardo's ideas and the evolution, so there's freshness, spontaneity, and we see the quick changes of mind," said Carmen Bambach, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The renowned painter died 500 years ago this year and to commemorate his life and legacy, the Met is displaying a painting called Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness, which is on special loan from the Vatican Museums.

"The artist has not yet put color to most of the painting, so basically we're looking at the ground preparation on the wood panel," Bambach said. "And we are looking at the under-drawings and the outlines in bluish-gray color, where we see his fingerprints."

Da Vinci died in 1519 at the height of the Renaissance in Europe. He was trained in Italy as a painter and sculptor and began working on this piece in Milan around 1483.

"Leonardo has a history of not having finished projects, especially his paintings, and this drove his patrons to despair," Bambach said. "This artist was constantly thinking and rethinking what he was doing."

Saint Jerome opens to museum members July 9 and to the public July 15. It will be on display at the Met until October. After that, it heads to the Louvre in Paris.