A French scientist who studied da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, for more than a decade, says that he has found two different artworks beneath her iconic smile.
Pascal Cotte says that his findings will forever change our vision of the painting, and that it will shatter a lot of myths.
Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci presumably finished the painting in 1517, and there has been a lot of controversy about it ever since.
For hundreds of years many people thought that ‘Mona Lisa’ is in fact a woman called Lisa Gherardini – who was the wife of a silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo from Florence, Italy. However, Mr. Cotte said that after he finished his reconstruction of Lisa Gherardini she looked nothing like ‘Mona Lisa’.
According to Cotte, the image hidden beneath the painting’s surface is the actual ‘Mona Lisa’ and that the woman painted on top, who has been thought to be Lisa Gherardini, is in fact someone else.
There are two other paintings under Leonardo da Vinci’s artwork which he began in 1503, Cotte said. One of them shows the outline of a woman’s portrait with a larger nose and head, smaller lips, bigger hands, and a pearl headdress.
To analyse the ‘Mona Lisa’, Cotte used powerful lights which he pointed at the painting, and a camera to measure the reflections of the light. He was able to reconstruct the series of actions that took place between each layer of paint.
The scientist compared the process of stripping each layer of paint to that of peeling an onion. Using that technology, the chronology of the painting’s creation was reconstructed.
However, Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford, stated that he does not believe Cotte’s story. According to him, Cotte’s finding only shows what the artist’s process of creating the painting was.
Those stages do not represent different portraits, but a continuous process of evolution, Mr. Kemp said. ‘Mona Lisa’ is without a doubt Lisa, Kemp added.
The ‘Mona Lisa’ is a beautiful painting renowned worldwide, and it is displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. For tourists visiting the Louvre, the ‘Mona Lisa’ is definitely a must-see.
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