Updated: Apr 24
‘The Mona Lisa’, the famous portrait with a smile that engages the visitors, the well-known masterpiece designed by the Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci which hangs in Salle des Etats inside Paris’s famous Louvre Museum. For decades, historians and scholars worked to find out the secret behind her mysterious smile. Da Vinci is very well known for his creations like ‘The Vitruvian Man’, ‘The Last Supper’, his ideas of flying machines, etc. but the Mona Lisa has given him recognition in the whole world. It has been stated by many of the historians that he used to travel with his painting and loved it very much. He felt it to be his best creation ever.
People believe that the portrait is of Da Vinci’s lover, whom he has used in many of his other works and surprisingly his lover was a man name Salai, a model who worked under him for years. It is claimed that Leonardo Da Vinci was homosexual and loved his assistant. Mr. Silvano Vinceti, head of a research group called the National Committee for Cultural Heritage claimed that Mona Lisa’s nose, forehead, and smile are strikingly similar to other paintings by Da Vinci which used Salai as a model. He also examined infra-red scans of the world-famous artwork and compared it to the other works by the master that Salai was used to have modeled for. The similarity between the two made scholars call his Mona Lisa neither female nor male but androgynous.
This is not just proved by some similarities between Mona Lisa and Salai but actually Da Vinci left a big clue that the painting was supposed to be androgynous. And that clue is the name itself- MONA LISA.
Let us move towards the Egyptian beliefs to prove this. Egyptians believed AMON to be the God of masculine fertility and worshipped ISIS as his counterpart i.e. she was believed to be the Egyptian Goddess of fertility. The female goddess, Isis, had an ancient pictogram called L’ISA. Now, if we join the names, we get Amon Lisa and that is where Da Vinci used a little trick; he used the anagram of Amon Lisa and named his painting- MONA LISA, divine union of male and female. So not only does the face of Mona Lisa look androgynous, but her smile holds the secret of her gender.
This very trick of Da Vinci made him one of the important people of art history. Other than this, Mona Lisa holds one more of his secrets. Da Vinci was a master at hiding things when they were right in front of one’s eyes. In the era where women were neither politically nor socially empowered, he, being a big fan of feminine principles, portrayed Mona Lisa with a powerful female aura than males.
It is noted that he painted the background behind her face uneven. Not that the uneven painting of background proved this secret, but the historical concepts of male and female comes to our rescue. Historically, males and females were assigned sides- Left is Female, and Right is Male. Da Vinci lowered the countryside on the left, that made Mona Lisa look majestic from the left than from the right.
Historians and scholars still work on Da Vinci’s projects and creations to unfold his secrets. Not only ‘The Mona Lisa’ but other creations like “The Vitruvian /Starman’ are stated to have secrets of their own.
This secret revelation about Mona Lisa made scholars look at the painting with a different eye and I hope, the next time you come across the portrait or it’s picture, you’ll appreciate its beauty and Da Vinci’s clever work.