Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eye of the beholder

Every year a new Leonardo Da Vinci controversy. Every year around the silly season.

Last January Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage wanted to open the tomb at Amboise castle, in France, where the Renaissance artist is believed to have been interred in 1874, after fire damaged the original tomb in 1789. Da Vinci died in 1519, aged 67.

The Italian Committee for Cultural Heritage wanted to examine Da Vinci's remains to find out whether his painting the Mona Lisa is a disguised self-portrait.

Italian Cultural Heritage expert Giorgio Gruppioni told Associated Press (AP) the proposal could throw new light on Leonardo’s most famous work. “If we manage to find his skull, we could rebuild Leonardo’s face and compare it with the Mona Lisa,” he said.

The plan had its critics.

Nicholas Turner, a former curator of drawings at the Getty Museum, told the Times “It sounds a bit fanciful, slightly mad, as if the Leonardo bug has taken hold too firmly in the minds of these people. We know that Mona Lisa was a specific person, she existed and it’s her portrait. If Leonardo heard about all this, he’d have a good chuckle”.

This year Italian National Committee for Cultural Heritage chairman Silvano Vinceti, told AP that Da Vinci's male apprentice and possible lover Salai was the main inspiration for the picture.

Vincenti told a sceptical press gallery the committee's researchers have studied what they call a high resolution digital photograph of the Mona Lisa's eyes and found what they claim might be "a love message to the figure in the painting" hidden in the Mona Lisa's eyes.

The Louvre museum, where the Mona Lisa hangs, is skeptical.

Agence France Press (AFP) reported the museum as saying it had carried out "every possible laboratory test" on the picture in 2004 and then again in 2009, and insisted that "no inscriptions, letters or numbers, were discovered during the tests".

The Louvre told AFP "the aging of the painting on wood has caused a great number of cracks to appear in the paint, which have caused a number of shapes to appear that have often been subject to over-interpretation".

Previously, many writers, and one group using mirrors (The Mirror of the Sacred Scriptures and Paintings World Foundation) have claimed to have discovered secret symbols in the Mona Lisa.

However during 2010 Italian Art Historian Giusseppe Pallanti claimed to have found the remains of the Mona Lisa's model, Lisa Gherardini, in a municipal dump in Florence.

Fascination with this most famous of Western artworks continues.

1 comment:

  1. There has been much controversy about the Mona Lisa, one being that 's/he' may have been Leonardo's gay lover. On this website there is no doubt in the writer's mind that he was in fact 'gay', although, as he states of that time that 'apparently it was common for young men to get into sexual relationships'