Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mona Lisa 3D

The student's version (Prado) - Leonardo's version (Louvre) 

In February 2012 I told you about a recently rediscovered and cleaned contemporary painting of the Mona Lisa (La Gioconda in Italian; La Joconde in French) at the Prado museum, possibly made by one of Leonardo Da Vinci's students.

Infrared and X-ray analysis of the Prado Mona Lisa found underdrawings and alterations from the tracing and all the way through the upper paint levels that matched those in 2004 scans of the Louvre Mona Lisa. That means that, from the initial sketches to the changes and corrections as painting progressed, the Prado Lisa followed the Louvre Lisa at each stage.

From Prado's Mona Lisa to Louvre's Mona Lisa

Two German researchers found that the background of the Prado painting, while virtually identical in shape, is 10% more zoomed in than the Louvre version. They also discovered a number of  particularly dense perspective changes in Mona Lisa’s hands and head. With these data the researchers were able to calculate the positions of the canvases relative to the sitter and then they made a model of Leonardo’s studio during the painting of the Mona Lisa (with Playmobil).

The original (labeled 1st) is further back and to the right of the Prado version.

The horizontal distance between the versions is about 69.3 millimeters. The average distance between the eyes of Italian males is 64.1mm, a statistically insignificant difference which suggests the possibility that the two paintings might have been deliberately positioned to be a stereoscopic pair which when viewed together give the impression of three dimensions.

When looking at the original colors of the two paintings the only real difference is in the sleeves, in which they are reddish in one version and greenish in the other. When combined the hands work as a stereoscopic pair indeed.

sources: &

next episode: Afoort


  1. Fascinating. Next time we visit Madrid......

    1. Ah, Madrid, one of my favorite cities. And after last Friday I have no problems visiting Spain (wearing something orange).

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  4. I do not know the whereabouts of my red/blue 3d shades at the moment but by slightly reducing the size of the side-by-side picture I have been able to free-view as a stereo pair and must say the results are stunning. Particularly - as you say - in the area of the hands.

    Positively amazing that each of these painting have recorded the scene with such photographic precision to allow for this effect. Makes you wonder if that was indeed the plan/goal. I can just imagine Leonardo sitting these paintings side by side in the studio and observing them from some distance to experience the same bit of visual magic. Wonderful!

    Thanks Rob

  5. Fascinating! I'm gonna grab me a pair of 3D's tomorrow to give this a try - you never know!

  6. Hi Rob! I remember when this was "discovered" she was called Mona Lisa's sister. Thank you for uncovering the interesting story behind the painting.

    1. Hi Mary! I'm glad you're still roaming the interwebs!


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