Mona Lisa

Because the Mona Lisa was in the news recently, I thought it might be interesting to look at the painting. The question is, What is so good about it?

I offer three high resolution reproductions from Wikipedia:

  1. A simple photo of the painting as it is today.
  2. A color corrected photo of the painting as it is today.
  3. An attempt to recreate the painting’s original appearance.

I find the third to be the most compelling version. Some things I notice are:

  • The subject’s body forms a triangle pointing upward, but there is also a triangle shape pointing downward (with the base traversing her eyes, extending out to the edges of the canvas, and the apex on the knuckle of the third finger of her right hand). This composition forms a Star of David, but the figure is Mary.
  • Because there’s an elevated lake in the background, and a low river below it, it is possible the lady’s face and rich curls are hiding a turbulent waterfall. Does that represent a thought in her mind?
  • The woman isn’t beautiful, but neither is she ugly. She appears to be smiling, except for her eyes, which suggest she is contemplating a secret.

My wife — herself an artist — thinks the Mona Lisa is a masterpiece because of Da Vinci’s use of “atmospheric perspective.” That is, the darker colors and blurriness of the background force the central figure into the foreground, all the more to showcase the artist’s photographic-quality brushwork.

I can see that, but there is something else in this painting. My wife looks more like Patty Duke than the Mona Lisa, but I can see my wife in the painting. Incredible.

12 thoughts on “Mona Lisa

  1. Actually some time ago, I read that the “lady” face is actually a Da Vinci self portrait. It is still an active theory today. I never saw it’s magnificence and I hear it is actually quite small but I am amazed at the quality of portraiting of the day. Being an owner of a John Durand dated 1769, it is actually engrossing each time I look at it to admire the detail not typically seen in modern paintings which seem to be mostly abstract.


    1. RE: “I read that the ‘lady’ face is actually a Da Vinci self portrait.”

      I’ve heard of that theory. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were true.


    2. …”s actually a Da Vinci self portrait.”

      Do you have the cite for that, because it is intriguing.

      HOWEVER, is this another case of a man trying to be a woman in your mind?


        1. I asked a legitimate question for you to supply the cite for your information. I tis done here all of the time by pretty much everyone.

          If you don’t have a cite and are just making up a Facebook story about it, then admit it and carry you hateful ass back the hole form which you emerged.


      1. I don’t see it as a fault so much, but if you try and read too much into art, you remove the magical aura that can occur when you see something beautiful.


        1. I don’t find that to be true with great art. In this instance, for example, the three features I describe in the Mona Lisa are things I never noticed or heard of before, even though I have spent many an afternoon studying the image and reading about it.


          1. But why study it? What is the purpose? Can’t you just enjoy great art (be it painting, sculpture, music or theater/drama) without trying to ascertain some deeper meaning?


  2. There are moments in life that stay with you while most fade away. The first time I saw the Mona Lisa in person was such a moment. She had a magical aura for which there are no words.

    Liked by 1 person

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