Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mona Lisa 2.0


Dozens of replicas of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (La Gioconda in Italian; La Joconde in French) have been made during the 16th and 17th centuries. One of them was stored in the vaults of the Prado Museum in Madrid. Last year curators found out that the panel was made of 16th century wood. Using infrared technology they discovered that underneath the black background a landscape was hidden.

It also revealed that the painting's underdrawings, sketches the painter makes before starting the actual painting, matched the underdrawings of the original Mona Lisa (the Louvre took IR images in 2004). This suggests that the copy was made at the same time, and at the same location, as the original! Appartently one of Leonardo's students painted it alongside the master.

The black overpainted was added to match other paintings in the gallery, it has been removed now. The result is a vibrant colorful painting, without cracks, and with eyebrows. This is how the original may have looked like years ago...

The painting will be fully restored by March, when it will be displayed next to the original in the Louvre in Paris from March 29 to June 25.

Left: the copy before the restoration. Middle: the restored copy. Right: the original. 

The woman is generally believed to be Lisa Gherardini, and is thought to have been painted between 1503 and 1519.

next episode: Monsieur Fabry

13 comments:

  1. Much more beautiful than that one by Leonardo, in my opinion.

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  2. How fascinating! The colors are much more vibrant than the original.

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  3. It is interesting to see how the overpainting changed the shape of the face as well. Posts like this one are why I enjoy reading your blog - so many great things that I did not know before reading.

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  4. I must say I tend to like to copy more than the original. I think the shape of the face may look different but in fact it may be just the same. The eyebrows and the different shading effects at the neck and the cheeks make the faces difficult to compare with each other.

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  5. fascinating! the colours are so vibrant.

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  6. This is a great painting. There are other Mona Lisa copies that need this kind of exposure and research, too.

    see more 16th C copies:
    please google:
    Flickr: Copies of "Mona Lisa (Gioconda)" after Leonardo da Vinci

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  7. Yes, some of those copies are... um... shall we say... not very flattering at all! It poses the question as to why so many copies were made during that time period. It is obvious to note the copy-ist were not trying to imitate the skill of Leonardo by using sfumato or chiaruso techniques. I share the rising belief that she was realy Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and Bari, 1470-1524. The colors of her garments in the Prado painting are the Sforza-Visconti colors. One could get hanged for imitating royalty!!!

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    1. I just googled this Isabella, and I can clearly see the resemblance!

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  8. Yes, the colors are better but it erases the essence of the age of the real painting. By the color of the original one, you would know that it's ancient and there's more value to that

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    1. That is true, but I also appreciate the fresh colours of the restored copy, maybe that's how the painter originally intended for us to see it.

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  9. Took me awhile to get into the meat of this article but am glad I did... very interesting discussion.

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