Mysterious Mona Lisa

Happy belated Bastille Day, France. (Sorry, I only blog on Thursdays and Mondays.)

Speaking of France, I came across this news article about the Mona Lisa. It seems the most famous painting in the world was involved in another study, this one using advanced X-ray technology. Scientists studied the shadows in the Mona Lisa’s face; more specifically, they studied how the light and dark areas blend so seamlessly, with no trace of the artist’s brushstrokes or fingerprints. You can read the article for details.

I saw the Mona Lisa with my own eyes several years back. I loved seeing it. Sure, it’s a bit smaller than expected, and there’s always a crowd around it, but there’s definitely something special about seeing it in person. Seeing anything in person that you’ve seen a million times in pictures always plays that weird trick on your brain. I like that feeling. Add the inherent mystery of the Mona Lisa, and her famous smile, and the experience took on a sort of creepy quality I enjoyed.

As for that smile, I once wrote about it for EF College Break’s Eye on Paris newsletter. I wrote that Mona Lisa’s smile actually seems to change, depending on where and how you look at it. This is due to Leonardo Da Vinci’s use of sfumato, a technique of subtle blurring and shadowing. It’s sfumato that the X-ray scientists were recently studying in the Mona Lisa.

Da Vinci loves messing with people’s minds.

Mona
Photo: caribb via Flickr (CC license)

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