By Eshna Gupta
Mona Lisa was made by Leonardo da Vinci in early 16th century under contract by Francesco del Giocondo, who wanted a portrait of his wife. But it turned out to be not just any other portrait of a lady with a smile, but that of a mysterious lady with the most mysterious smile.
The most argued upon element of the painting is the smile itself, whether it is really there or not. Sometimes, the Mona Lisa seems to be smiling and sometimes not. Well, it’s not just her smile that is so mysterious!
So here’s our attempt to further dive into the mystery of this masterpiece and explore some unanswered questions. Some of these are just theories and a few could have been proven otherwise, but what the heck, it is always good to speculate, isn’t it?
1. Who Was Mona Lisa?
‘Mona Lisa’ means ‘my lady Lisa’ in Italian.
The lady in the painting is speculated to be Lisa Gherardini. When Vinci started the piece, he didn’t know it would turn out to be his most celebrated piece of work.
He wasn’t probably paid a lot for it, that’s why it’s been painted on a low-quality wood-panel and a lot of people find its dimensions disappointingly small.
But what made the painting so dear to Vinci that he never delivered it to Francesco del Giocondo and spent almost fifteen years of his life working on it!?
2. Something Cooking?
There are speculations that Leonardo da Vinci was having an affair with the lady Lisa. Some believe that it is for that very reason that Vinci decided to give her the most beautiful smile he could paint!
Other theories also suggest that the lady was pregnant at that time and was holding a kerchief in front of her belly to hide it. This group believes that the mysterious smile was not Vinci’s creation, but was inspired from Lisa, as she was “hiding a sweet secret”!
3. The Peripheral Vision
You know, sometimes it feels like the person sitting next to you is looking at you but actually, that’s not so! Or when it feels like somebody is standing nearby but it turns out to be just a shadow! Well, these are some of the most common ways peripheral vision messes up with your mind. Peripheral vision is related to all that you are not really looking
Well, these are some of the most common ways peripheral vision messes up with your mind. Peripheral vision is related to all that you are not really looking at but still falls within your vision.
Scientific researchers say that the ‘illusion of a smile’ in Mona Lisa is created due to the peripheral vision. When your center of gaze is the lips, the lips appear curved downwards and don’t look like a smile.
When the eyes become your center of gaze, the lips are left in the peripheral vision and here the illusion works. The shadow-scheme of the painting makes it appear as if Mona Lisa is smiling.
4. Changing Over The Years
Now this is a bit more of a speculation and one that could have been proven otherwise already
But apparently, scientists have digitally removed layers of paint to bring out the initial painting. The painting that is revealed beneath is much more vibrant and the lady there does not really have a mysterious smile (I personally feel it doesn’t have a smile at all…).
5. Is It Leonardo da Vinci Himself?
Another theory reveals that Mona Lisa’s facial features perfectly resemble Vinci’s own in the self-portrait that he made in 1512. This brings us back to the question, “Who was Mona Lisa?”.
So in the course of fifteen years, did Vinci end up painting himself? Did Vinci consciously paint a portrait of his queer side, hence giving the mysterious smile another meaning!
Answers to all these questions were lost with Vinci; the Mona Lisa and her smile remain veil-wound in mystery. These mysteries contribute more than its aesthetics to its phenomenal popularity. Here the strands of mystery have been unraveled for you, so that you can peek through that obscure veil.
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