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The Mystery of The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa, the world’s most famous work of art, was stolen in 1911 and vanished for over two years. A handyman named Vincenzo Peruggia pried the portrait from its frame, leaving it undiscovered. The Mona Lisa became a household name, and the scandal made her a superstar. Around the time of her disappearance, an art dealer named Hugh Blaker offered to buy the Isleworth Mona Lisa, which he claimed was a mysterious painting by a relative returning from Italy.

The mystery of the Mona Lisa began during the Renaissance in Italy, where Leonardo da Vinci was a central catalyst. He was a relentless, tough-minded experimenter who sought to create a total remaking of the natural world. In 1503, he took on a commission to paint a portrait of a silk merchant’s wife, a subject that had been a source of revenue for him.

According to the latest science and archives, there are two theories: the traditional theory suggests only one portrait in the Louvre, and the other suggests there are two completely different paintings. Rumors of a second Mona Lisa circulated, and experts have now begun to uncover the secrets behind her enigmatic smile and finally solve the mystery of the Mona Lisa.

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence holds the first edition of Giorgio Vasari’s seminal work on Italian Renaissance art, Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. Vasari wrote the manuscript after Leonardo’s death, with access to the artist’s records and eyewitnesses. He described a silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo, whose sons confirmed that Leonardo da Vinci painted a portrait of their mother, the Mona Lisa.

Vasari described the portrait in detail, including the eyelashes, lips, and eyebrows, as an extraordinary feature. However, the painting in the Louvre does not have these eyelashes, raising doubts about Vasari’s familiarity with the painting. New photo technology has been used to solve the mystery of the missing eyebrows, but there is no clear scientific answer.

Vasari’s account also emphasizes the portrait’s unfinished state, which could be the Isleworth Mona Lisa, the version Hugh Blaker bought in England. The Isleworth Mona Lisa is kept in Switzerland and has changed hands several times since its discovery. Vasari’s account suggests that Leonardo’s restless mind and interest in the world around him could have left him with unfinished works.

In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci was awarded a major commission in Florence to paint the Mona Lisa, commemorating the Battle of Anghiari. However, his ingenuity backfired when the hot wax colors took too long to dry and began to drip down the walls. Halfway through the job, Leonardo abandoned the commission, leaving the unfinished fresco behind. This was not the first time he had abandoned a commission, as several of his most famous works remain incomplete.

It is possible that Leonardo lost interest halfway through painting Lisa, the wife of the silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo. The unfinished portrait of Lisa seems slightly younger in the unfinished version, which could be a clue as to when she was painted. Evidence regarding the timing of the painting came from a handwritten note in a 16th-century book by Agostino Vespucci, who wrote that Leonardo usually completes the main parts of his subjects and often leaves the rest of the painting unfinished.

From 1503 to 1506, there is no record of the Giocondo family spending any money on a painting, possibly never receiving the finished portrait. There is no rational reason why Leonardo should have painted the picture and then kept it for himself, as it must have stayed with him for a very long time, possibly for the rest of his life.

Leonardo spent his final years in France at the invitation of King Francis I. Two years before his death, Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona visited him with his private secretary, Antonio de Beatis. De Beatis recounted the Cardinal’s visit in a detailed diary, showing Leonardo several of his works. Nearly 400 years later, diaries were published, which set off a storm of speculation about Leonardo’s most famous work. The two documents by Vasari and de Beatis differ with regard to the dates and context, but they support the theory of two different portraits.

The Isleworth Mona Lisa, a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, has been the subject of speculation among art historians. The painting, which is believed to be a forgery, is known for its obvious departures from the version in the Louvre, making it difficult to identify as an attempt at a copy. The discovery of the Isleworth Mona Lisa was made just after the original was looted from the Louvre, a time when a forger could capitalize on her absence.

Experts at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich use carbon-14 dating to authenticate ancient objects, but the challenge lies in sampling only the painting itself. The Isleworth Mona Lisa features two pillars, unlike the Louvre Mona Lisa’s barely visible columns. Art historians had long assumed that the Mona Lisa in the Louvre had been trimmed, but this theory was supported by Raphael’s drawing of a woman sitting on a balcony with columns down the side.

In 2004, restorers at the Louvre discovered that the painting had never been trimmed and that no columns were present in the portrait. This led to the conclusion that any version of the Mona Lisa with visible columns is likely a fake. However, determining when the painting was painted remains challenging, with experts unable to determine her exact age. The analysis reveals that the Isleworth Mona Lisa’s canvas was likely manufactured between 1500 and 1650, possibly during Leonardo’s lifetime.

The Mona Lisa, a masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci’s time, is believed to be the result of his experimentation with different techniques and physical paint and varnish. The production of art in the Renaissance was based on the division of labor, allowing Leonardo to get creative in other ways. The Isleworth Mona Lisa bears witness to this artistic alchemy, as it contains evidence of Leonardo’s experimentation with different techniques and physical paint and varnish.

To find the signature of a painter, researchers take microscopic samples of the pigment. Microscopic tests reveal that no modern materials were used in the Isleworth, suggesting it was created while Leonardo was alive. However, it is possible that the portrait was painted by the master himself or by someone close to him, such as his student Salai.

The Isleworth Mona Lisa is considered a studio production, as it was produced in small scale, Leonardo-brand pictures. Leonardo himself believed in having three types of pictures: top-quality ones, middle-quality ones, and studio products. However, the Isleworth Mona Lisa’s canvas version, unlike all of Leonardo’s known paintings, is painted on wood.

An x-ray of the painting shows that there is more or less no lead-white in the preparation layer, which is essential for achieving the three-dimensional effect Leonardo achieved with the Mona Lisa. Scientific examination tells us that Leonardo’s technique is very variable, as he tackled each picture on a new basis.

Leonardo da Vinci’s ability to control oil glazes and lay them on top of each other in a way that was not disastrous is evident in his paintings. His technique relied on perfect preparation, and not every color made the cut. Research physicist John Asmus at the University of California in San Diego believes he can identify the hand of a genius by comparing the statistical characteristics of color and brightness.

Asmus found that the histograms of the two Mona Lisas are virtually identical, making it 99 percent certain that the two Mona Lisas were done by the same artist. The answer to this question might lie in Rome, where, late in life, Leonardo perfected his technique. He may have been experimenting with finer glazes and varnishes to create a shimmering, mirage-like quality.

The Mona Lisa from the Louvre consists of up to thirty superfine films of paint, making it difficult for the naked eye to see individual brushstrokes. It is possible that Leonardo wanted to try his new technique on an old work he had abandoned long ago, or he saw the original as a failed experiment on canvas.

The biggest difference between the two paintings is their condition. In contrast to her lookalike in the Louvre, the passage of time has left little trace on the Isleworth Mona Lisa. The painting is nearly perfect, with only some tiny losses and minor retouches.

The Isleworth Mona Lisa, a 500-year-old painting, has been a mystery for centuries. Its storage under perfect conditions and the Louvre Mona Lisa’s disappearance have led to debates about its authenticity. Some believe it was not done by Leonardo, while others suggest he painted both. Evidence suggests the painting was done by the same artist with the same hand and technique. While some believe the Mona Lisa mystery has been solved, others argue there is still insufficient evidence to determine its identity.

Raphael, the master painter, visited Leonardo’s studio and sketched the Mona Lisa, In his sketches, he draws pillars like the Isleworth Mona Lisa. I have an article on Raphael and highly recommend reading it.


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