Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa

The Louvre in Paris is once again the world's most popular art museum with 8,800,000 visitors in 2011. [Source: Art Newspaper] In 2007, the museum staff went on strike, citing as the reason the stress of looking after the Mona Lisa and other popular paintings. "The stress is clearly linked to the number of visitors," a Louvre attended told the AFP news agency at the time. "There can be 65,000 visitors on one day. It's unbearable...."

Leonardo's masterpiece is like a magnet attracting visitors from all corners of the world. It has become an icon, part of western mythology. But if you think that you know all about the lady with the enigmatic smile, then think again, for according to Dr Vito Franco of Palermo University, La Giaconda had high cholesterol, evident, claims the doctor, from a build-up of fatty acids discernible under the skin.

He also suggested the presence of lipoma, a benign fatty-tissue tumour, in her right eye. "The people depicted in art reveal their physicality, tell us of their vulnerable humanity, regardless of the artist's awareness of it", he told the Italian newspaper La Stampa. [Source: BBC News 6 January 2010]

These claims add to those made in 2007 by French inventor Pascal Cotte, who said that his 240-megalpixel scan of the painting revealed traces of facial hair obliterated by restoration efforts. Also her face was originally wider, and Leonardo also altered the position of two fingers on her left hand. Monsieur Cotte used infra red while scanning he work, and says his scan revealed that it once had bright blues and whites, and not just the heavy greens, yellows and browns it has today. [Source: Live Science]

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