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Secret about the Mona LisaNo one is really sure of 'the secret of The Mona Lisa'. The painting was painted so long ago that we don't have very much information on where, why and who the subject was, though there are many theories. Some people believe that it is Da Vinci's portrait of himself as a female and The Da Vinci Code (a novel by Dan Brown) also delves into theories about how it is connected to 'sacred feminity'. All these theories though are speculation.

There are also various theories on the identity of the model.

One is Lisa Gherardini. Vasari identified the subject to be the wife of socially prominent Francesco del Giocondo, who was a silk merchant of Florence. Until recently, little was known about his third wife, Lisa Gherardini, except that she was born in 1479, raised at her family's Villa Vignamaggio in Tuscany and that she married del Giocondo in 1495.

In 2004, the Italian scholar Giuseppe Pallanti published Monna Lisa, Mulier Ingenua (literally '"Mona Lisa: Real Woman", published in English under the title Mona Lisa Revealed: The True Identity of Leonardo's Model). The book gathered archival evidence in support of the traditional identification of the model as Lisa Gherardini. According to Pallanti, the evidence suggests that Leonardo's father was a friend of del Giocondo. "The portrait of Mona Lisa, done when Lisa Gherardini was aged about 24, was probably commissioned by Leonardo's father himself for his friends as he is known to have done on at least one other occasion." Pallanti discovered that Lisa and Francesco had five children and that she outlived her husband. In early 2007, Pallanti found a death notice in the archives of a Florence church that referred to "the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, deceased July 15, 1542, and buried at Sant'Orsola." Sant'Orsola is a convent in Florence. Pallanti ascertains with certainty that this refers to Gherardini. This would make her age at her death to be 63 years. Also in January 2007, Italian geneologist Domenico Savini identified the princesses Natalia and Irina Strozzi as living descendants of Lisa Gherardini.

In September 2006, Bruno Mottin argued that the guarnelo he studied using the 2004 scan data suggested that the painting dated from around 1503 and commemorated the birth of Lisa Gherardini's second son.

Other suggestions

Some have seen a facial similarity between the Mona Lisa and other paintings, such as St. John the Baptist.Vasari, however, wrote about the portrait, and described it, without ever having seen it; the painting was already in France in Vasari's era. So various alternatives to the traditional sitter have been proposed. During the last years of his life, Leonardo spoke of a portrait "of a certain Florentine lady done from life at the request of the magnificent Giuliano de' Medici." No evidence has been found that indicates a link between Lisa Gherardini and Giuliano de' Medici, but then the comment could instead refer to one of the two other portraits of women executed by da Vinci. A later anonymous statement created confusion when it linked the Mona Lisa to a portrait of Francesco del Giocondo himself - perhaps the origin of the controversial idea that it is the portrait of a man.

Which lead to the theory that it was a self-portrait as Dr. Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs suggested. Critics of this theory suggest that the similarities are due to both portraits being painted by the same person using the same style. Additionally, the drawing on which she based the comparison may not be a self-portrait. Serge Bramly, in his biography of Leonardo, discusses the possibility that the portrait depicts the artist's mother Caterina. This would account for the resemblance between artist and subject observed by Dr. Schwartz, and would explain why Leonardo kept the portrait with him wherever he travelled, until his death.

Art historians have also suggested the possibility that the Mona Lisa may only resemble Leonardo by accident: as an artist with a great interest in the human form, Leonardo would have spent a great deal of time studying and drawing the human face, and the face most often accessible to him was his own, making it likely that he would have the most experience with drawing his own features. The similarity in the features of the people depicted in paintings such as the Mona Lisa and St. John the Baptist may thus result from Leonardo's familiarity with his own facial features, causing him to draw other, less familiar faces in a similar light.

Leonardo used a pyramid design to place the woman simply and calmly in the space of the painting. Her folded hands form the front corner of the pyramid. Her breast, neck and face glow in the same light that softly models her hands. The light gives the variety of living surfaces an underlying geometry of spheres and circles. Leonardo referred to a seemingly simple formula for seated female figure: the images of seated Madonna, which were widely spread at the time. He effectively modified this formula in order to create the visual impression of distance between the sitter and the observer. The armrest of the chair functions as a dividing element between Mona Lisa and us. The woman sits markedly upright with her arms folded, which is also a sign of her reserved posture. Only her gaze is fixed on the observer and seems to welcome him to this silent communication. Since the brightly lit face is practically framed with various much darker elements (hair, veil, shadows), the observer's attraction to Mona Lisa's face is brought to even greater extent. Thus, the composition of the figure evokes an ambiguous effect: we are attracted to this mysterious woman but have to stay at a distance as if she were a divine creature. There is no indication of an intimate dialogue between the woman and the observer as is the case in the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (Louvre) painted by Raphael about ten years after Mona Lisa and undoubtedly influenced by Leonardo's portrait.

The painting was one of the first portraits to depict the sitter before an imaginary landscape. The enigmatic woman is portrayed seated in what appears to be an open loggia with dark pillar bases on either side. Behind her a vast landscape recedes to icy mountains. Winding paths and a distant bridge give only the slightest indications of human presence. The sensuous curves of the woman's hair and clothing, created through sfumato, are echoed in the undulating imaginary valleys and rivers behind her. The blurred outlines, graceful figure, dramatic contrasts of light and dark, and overall feeling of calm are characteristic of Leonardo's style. Due to the expressive synthesis that Leonardo achieved between sitter and the landscape it is arguable whether Mona Lisa should be considered as a portrait, for it represents rather an ideal than a real woman. The sense of overall harmony achieved in the painting-especially apparent in the sitter's faint smile- reflects Leonardo's idea of the cosmic link connecting humanity and nature, making this painting an enduring record of Leonardo's vision and genius.

It was a portrait that illustrated the leap into 'Humanism' of the Renaissance. Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities-particularly rationalism. Humanism is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems, and is incorporated into several religious schools of thought. Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests. A move away from religious focuses in art (though Leonardo did still do some religious paintings) and more of a focus on normal, average, human beings was what this caused.

The Mona Lisa is likely the most famous Humanistic painting, if not simply the most famous painting. It forces us to think about the woman in the picture, what is she thinking? feeling? That is what makes it so grand and mysterious.

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12y ago
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12y ago

It had been rumored that the Mona Lisa was Leonarda DaVinci's love interest, and that he had painted her due to his passion towards her. But, many have argued that the Mona Lisa is actually a self portrait of DaVinci himself, in a woman's figure.

Historians are still debating over the true story behind the Mona Lisa.

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14y ago

There are more reason than I can really give justice to here but in short:

Until quite recently we didn't know for sure who the subject of the painting was, leaving it up to a lot of speculation. We now know it was almost surely Lisa de Giocondo.

Not knowing the identity of the smiling woman, admirers formulated their own ideas about who it might be and, art critics of the day being mostly men, fantasies were created with those identities, such as, "Maybe she was Leonardo's lover."

Also, recently it has been speculated that the subject of the painting was pregnant at the time of the portrait based on observations of the types of clothing she is wearing. This only adds to the mystery.

This said, I don't want to take away from the artistic fascination with the painting. It is truly a great work of art from the time period. The careful positioning of the subject within the composition, the delicate forms created by her and her garments, the illusion of distance and depth created by lighting, background and prop placement; all these and much more than I could tell you about go toward making the Mona Lisa a great work of art not to mention and object of controversy. That is some of why it is so mysterious.

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12y ago

The Mona Lisa is a Painting by Leonardo Da Vinci,In the Painting there is a Female figure, People believe that it is famous for her Unhappy smile, But this is untrue, The painting is actually famous for the figure being a male and not a female.

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14y ago

Click the link below and look at the painting. If you find her fascinating, no explanation is needed. If you don't, then she is simply not fascinating to you. What other people think of art should not worry you.

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13y ago

- Why is she almost smiling? - Why did Leonardo keep this portrait till he died?

Other mysteries? Not really.
Any mystery; it is only a legend.

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Q: What is the mystery of Mona Lisa?
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