Mona Lisa is undoubtedly the most popular portraits in the art world, the greatest creation of renaissance period and the finest masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci. Surrounded with bazillion mysteries this accomplished work of art has been the most widely reproduced work and the ultimate source of inspiration for visual and literary arts. Here are some of the most intriguing mysteries that have boosted the artworks popularity.
To begin with, the most talked about mystery is Mona Lisa’s captivating half-smile, so much so that it even originated a popular urban legend, which states that an a young French artist, Luc Maspero, in 1852 threw himself from the fourth floor window of his Paris hotel. In a final letter, he wrote: “For years I have grappled desperately with [Mona Lisa’s] smile. I prefer to die.”
However a recent study, resolves the mystery to a certain level. Art experts, latest belief has been that the genius artist, applied optical illusion called sfumato. If a viewer looks at the eyes (or any other feature) of the sitter, due to the clever shading and color blending around the cheek bones and mouth, ones peripheral vision (side vision) makes the upturn of the smile appear more prominent and perceptible. Looking directly at the mouth the smile instantly becomes flat and extremely faint. The experts from Sheffield Hallam University have termed this hopping smile, generated by playing with the side and direct vision as the ‘uncatchable smile’.
Mona Lisa’s identity is another mystery that still remains unresolved. Though there have been many speculations that have stemmed from the uncertainty of the sitters identity, most widely believed presumption is that the sitter was Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine cloth merchant. Some art historians however believe that the model for the portrait is a man named, Gian Giacomo Caprotti, whom is identified as Leonardo’s apprentice, nicknamed Salai.
In addition, with digital analysis there are set of experts who assert that there is a possibility that Mona Lisa is a self portrait.
Gian Giacomo Caprotti’s Portrait (Right)
Leonardo da Vinci’s self-Portrait (Right)
For the longest time people have speculated as to why Leonardo da Vinci didn’t make eyebrows and eyelashes for Mona Lisa. Just recently, Pascal Cotte, a French engineer, claimed that he discovered with a high-definition camera that Leonardo da Vinci originally did paint eyebrows and eyelashes however with time they have faded or unintentionally got erased at some stage of clean the painting.
Leonardo da Vinci’s notoriety for placing hidden codes and messages in his artworks has led to in-depth analysis of almost all his artworks. Specially after the release of thriller books like- Da Vinci Code, art detectives have been tiresome working hard to spot secret symbols and messages. Just recently, President of Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage, spotted symbols, in Monal Lisa’s eyes. In the right eye appear to be the letters LV which could well stand for his name, Leonardo da Vinci, while in the left eye the letters appear to be CE which haven’t been deciphered so far.
On the arch of the bridge in the background, number 72 is artfully concealed based on which some historians have asserted that it reveals the location of the background- Bobbio, a village in northern Italy. The numerals are a reference to 1472, the year in which a devastating flood destroyed Bobbio’s bridge (shown in the background). Leonardo used the numeric’s to record the event.
However there are many art experts who have rubbished all these theories, stating that these are simply cracks which have emerge over the years on the painting.
One of the nuttiest claims has been that Mona Lisa had high levels of cholesterol. Medical expert Dr. Vito Franco, from Palermo University claims that the signs of fatty acids around the eyes and cheeks of the subject is one of the reasons for her illusory smile.
Was Mona Lisa Pregnant? – With the three-dimensional infrared scanning conducted by experts in 2004, it was discovered that the transparent veil worn by the sitter was typically used by women in that era during pregnancy or just after giving birth. So the answers to the long standing question of Mona Lisa’s pregnancy can be considered resolved.
There are many of more speculations and theories, Mona Lisa is one such mysterious masterpiece which never seizes to intrigue interest. Analysis, deciphering and scrutiny for this artwork are never-ending…