Thursday, January 17, 2013
So Kato, how come you’ve brought up Mona lisa all of a sudden?
… ‘Cause the following lovely song reminds me of the most beautiful and mysterious smile of this world-famous woman.
“Mona Lisa” by Nat King Cole
Oh, what a lovely and sweet song! I love it.
Yes, Of course, I do. Everybody loves it. But what made you listen to the above song?
Well … I viewed the following DVD the other day.
You borrowed it from Joe Fortes Library, didn’t you?
Yes, I did.
How did you like it?
Oh, I enjoyed it very much, and actually felt as if I’d lived with Leonardo da Vinci for 67 years in the 270-minute docu-drama.
The Life of Leonardo da Vinci
You found the above video clips for me, didn’t you?
Yes, I did. I want you to share the wonder and joy with me.
Do you really mean it?
Oh, yes, most definitely. That’s why I left my comment as follows:
This landmark film is a 270-minute 5-part documentary-drama that offers an exciting look into the mystery, myth and secrets of the most dynamic figure at the heart of the Renaissance.
Born out of wedlock to a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman, Caterina, at Vinci in the region of Florence, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio.
Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan.
He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, and he spent his last years in France at the home awarded him by Francis I.
Little is known about Leonardo’s early life.
He spent his first five years in the hamlet of Anchiano in the home of his mother, then from 1457 he lived in the household of his father, grandparents and uncle, Francesco, in the small town of Vinci.
His father had married a sixteen-year-old girl named Albiera, who loved Leonardo but died young.
When Leonardo was sixteen his father married again, to twenty-year-old Francesca Lanfredini.
It was not until his third and fourth marriages that Ser Piero produced legitimate heirs.
Between 1493 and 1495 Leonardo listed a woman called Caterina among his dependents in his taxation documents.
When she died in 1495, the list of funeral expenditures suggests that she was his mother.
After 1495, Leonardo had never mentioned Caterina.
Why? It is indeed a big puzzle.
So, Kato, you’re wondering why Leonardo had never mentioned Caterina after 1495, aren’t you?
Actually, I’ve been wondering quite a while; so much so that I wrote an article.
Who was Mona Lisa?
The world’s most famous face—Mona Lisa—may have belonged to a famous (or infamous) Italian lady nicknamed “the Tigress”, according to a decade of research by a German art historian.
The true identity of the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s painting (painted between 1500 and 1505) has puzzled art historians for years.
The “Tigress” turns out none other than Caterina Sforza, the Duchess of Forlì and Imola.
The above painting was produced in 1487, when Caterina was 25, by Italian artist Lorenzo di Credi.
In fact, Leonardo later painted her when she was around the age of 40.
Although the proud pose, the position of the arms and the overall structure appears similar to those of Mona Lisa, there are some discrepancies.
For example, Mona Lisa is well-known for her simple beauty without expensive jewelry or lavish dress.
With her well-balanced features, slightly pointed chin, and heavy eyelids, the face of Mona Lisa represents Leonardo’s vision of ideal beauty.
Unlike the richly ornamented women painted by his contemporaries, she displays no jewelry and wears a simple dress and a black veil.
On the contrary, Caterina Sforza remained fastidious in her garment and accessories, and wore expensive clothes and jewelry to impress her subjects with her status and beauty.
Art historians had previously believed that Leonardo’s sitter was a young Florentine woman who married Francesco del Giocondo in 1495 and thus came to be known as “La Gioconda.”
Other theories suggested she was a transvestite, a prostitute or even Leonardo himself in drag.
If you have ever read his biography, you definitely know that Leonardo was a meticulous man as his notebooks show.
He recorded in his notebooks the names of his sitters.
Strangely enough, however, nowhere can be found any records of the model for Mona Lisa.
Why is that? Who posed for him?
A scientist at Bell Labs suggests that Leonardo painted himself, and was able to prove it by analyzing the facial features of Leonardo’s face and that of the famous woman.
The scientist digitized both the self-portrait of the artist and Mona Lisa, flipping the self-portrait and merging the two images together using a computer, and noticed the features of the face aligned perfectly.
Here’s how Leonardo turns into Mona Lisa, and vice versa:
Have you ever noticed that Mona Lisa has neither eyebrows nor eyelashes?
Her eyes look sad and her smile a bit scornful—not the expression of a young woman.
To understand Leonardo, you have to know about his mother.
Born out of wedlock on April 15, 1452, outside the small Tuscan town of Vinci near Florence, Leonardo was the son of a wealthy Florentine notary and a woman who may have worked as a servant in the house of Leonardo’s grandparents.
In any case, she didn’t come from a well-to-do family.
Leonardo’s father did take several wives—each a member of a good Florence family—but for over twenty years he had no other children.
When he turned fourteen, Leonardo joined the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence.
To paint Mona Lisa, Leonardo didn’t have to use a model because he knew exactly how his mother looked.
Yes, Mona Lisa was more than likely his mother.
No wonder Mona Lisa looked like himself since a boy tends to look like his mother; a girl, her father.
Leonardo didn’t make his self-portrait in the disguise of a woman.
First of all, he was not interested in painting himself.
Unlike some artists who produced a lot of self-portraits such as Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn, Leonardo da Vinci did hardly leave such a work because his interests were basically placed in everything but himself.
During his youth, Leonardo seldom met his mother.
He could probably count how many times he did so.
Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile has something to do with the relationship between Leonardo and his mother—Catharina, his biological mother.
He loved his mother. She felt alienated from his upbringing but still they had a strong bond.
When she died, Leonardo paid for her expensive funeral.
Leonardo always took the Mona Lisa with him on his travels.
If Caterina Sforza asked Leonardo to paint her or Francesco del Giocondo placed an order for his wife’s portrait, why did Leonardo has to carry the portrait with him all the time?
It doesn’t make sense at all.
If Mona Lisa was his mother, the mist around the famous painting suddenly seems to lift.
Remember that his mother didn’t come from a wealthy family of a good name, and that Leonardo’s ideal beauty was simplicity—with neither expensive jewelry nor lavish dress.
Unlike the richly ornamented women painted by his contemporaries, the Mona Lisa displays no jewelry and wears a simple dress and a black veil.
In his later years, Leonardo went to France.
Francis I welcomed him and built a small castle nearby his own so that Leonardo could get the attention and treatment during his last years of illness.
The King highly respected Leonardo and admired his works and talent.
He felt honoured to be in the presence of Leonardo.
The King admired the Mona Lisa because she was the mother of Leonardo.
Would the French king have such high regard for a painting of Francesco del Giocondo’s wife?
Would Leonardo pay so much attention to a painting of a shopkeeper’s wife during the last years of his life?
Probably, the dispute will still go on until somebody discovers a concrete, indisputable evidence.
In the meantime, you may draw your own conclusion.
SOURCE: “Who was Mona Lisa?”
(June 12, 2002)
Kato, you wrote the above article a decade ago, didn’t you?
Yes, I did.
What do you think about the model of Mona Lisa now?
I come to conclusion, after viewing the DVD, the model is none other than his own biological mother.
Why is that?
First of all, Leonardo always took the Mona Lisa with him on his travels, and he even placed it beside his death bed.
Probably, Leonardo tried to make it perfect even at his death.
I don’t think so. If Caterina Sforza asked Leonardo to paint her or Francesco del Giocondo placed an order for his wife’s portrait, Leonardo wouldn’t have carried the portrait with him all the time.
But what made Leonardo do so?
…’Cause he loved his own mother. Mona lisa is love.
Well … what do you think?
Do you think Mona lisa is Leonardo’s mother as Kato came to his conclusion?
I still believe that Francesco del Giocondo placed an order for his wife’s portrait.
I think it is anybody’s guess till somebody comes up with a concrete and indisputable evidence.
In any case, I hope Kato will write another interesting article soon.
So please come back to see me.
Have a nice day!
Bye bye …
If you’ve got some time,
Please read one of the following artciles:
■“Tulips and Diane”
■“Diane in Bustle Skirt”
■“Diane and Beauty”
■“Lady Chatterley and Beauty”
■“From Canada to Japan”
■“From Gyoda to Vancouver”
■“Midnight in Vancouver”
■“Dead Poets Society”
■“Letters to Diane”
■“Wright and Japan”
■“Memrory Lane to Sendai”
■“Titanic @ Sendai”
■“Roly-poly in the wild”
■“Silence is dull”
■“Zen and Chi Gong”
■“Diane Girdles the Globe”
■“Diane in Casablanca”
■“Sex, Violence, Love”
■“Halifax to Vancouver”
■“A Thread of Destiny”
■“God is Near!”
■“Holy Cow@Rose Garden”
■“You Love Japan, eh?”
■“Fright on Flight”
■“From Summer to Eternity”
■“Sōseki & Glenn Gould”
■“Dream Dream Dream”
■“In Search of Your Footprint”
■“Little Night Music”
■“Happy New Year!”
■“Long live Diane!”
Hi, I’m June Adams.
I, too, enjoyed watching the DVD, and was amazed to see the exact model of “Lady with an Ermine” in the film.
“Lady with an Ermine”
The above painting was completed by Leonardo da Vinci, from around 1489–1490.
The subject of the portrait is identified as Cecilia Gallerani, and was probably painted at a time when she was the mistress of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan.
At the time Leonardo was in the service of the Duke.
The painting is one of only four female portraits painted by Leonardo, the others being the Mona Lisa, the portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci and La belle ferronnière.
It is currently displayed in the Wawel Castle, Kraków, Poland.
■『軽井沢タリアセン夫人 – 小百合物語』