4 secrets about the Mona Lisa

Gilles Farina
Publié le 9 June 2023
4 secrets about the Mona Lisa

Everyone thinks they know her. Mind you, she's undoubtedly the most photographed woman in the world, enough to make any celebrity swoon. Today, Museum TV invites you to discover all the secrets of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci!

1. A brief history of Leonardo da Vinci

Painter, sculptor, engineer, architect, scientist and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an absolute genius. Although he did not create many paintings, he did make numerous drawings and notebooks, combining scientific precision with imagination. He explored diverse fields such as geology, anatomy, gravitation and optics. Of all his creations, we will focus on the most renowned, protected behind bullet-proof glass and admired by thousands of visitors every day: the Mona Lisa.

3. So many unanswered questions.

Her smile drew many comments. It's a worrying smile that has troubled more than one writer. Is she just enjoying the musicians hired by the painter to entertain her? The (almost) good news is that this singular smile is not exclusive to the Mona Lisa. It can be found on most of the faces painted by da Vinci, such as the Madonna of the Rocks and Saint Anne.

Virgin of the Rocks

Look closely at the landscape behind the Mona Lisa. While the part on the left represents a lake, the part on the right seems to represent mountains. It is her smile that creates the link between the lake and the mountains. Mona Lisa's smile rises on the side of the mountains and dissipates on the side of the lake. So the smile of our beautiful woman creates the transition between the two parts. And what about her hands? In the 16th century, hands were considered one of the most important aspects of feminine beauty. Why aren't they long and slender?

Unfortunately, the specialists have not found the answer. The Mona Lisa still holds all its mysteries...

4. What is sfumato?

"Sfumato" means "smoke" in Italian. It is a technique often used by Leonardo da Vinci. To represent shadows and tonal effects, he gave his paintings a soft, hazy appearance by superimposing layers of transparent colours.

5. Why doesn't she have any eyebrows?

Have you noticed that Mona Lisa doesn't have any eyebrows? The most likely hypothesis is that, over time, the features have faded because the painting was cleaned too vigorously during a previous restoration. Another possibility is that the artist used paint that lightened over time.

5. Bonus

We were surprised to discover that 'Mona Lisa' could also be spelt 'Monna Lisa'. Well, "Monna" is actually a contraction of "madonna", which means "Madam" in Italian.

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