21.In 2006, scientists announced that the Mona Lisa was pregnant or soon after giving birth while posing for the master.
Modern technology made it possible to discover that Mona Lisa covered her dress with a gauze veil worn back then by pregnant women or freshly after childbirth.
22.The portrait shows a young woman sitting on a chair.
Her hands are resting on the armrest of the chair, which is visible at the bottom of the painting. The sitter is portrayed en trois quarts ("in three quarters") in an oblique, incomplete profile. She has dark hair covered with a transparent veil and dark eyes, above which there are no eyebrows (in the 16th century it was fashionable to depilate the eyebrows to give the impression of a higher forehead, which was desirable at the time).
23.The woman is wearing a modest black dress with a décolleté that is not adorned with any jewelry.
Behind the model, the artist painted a high wall and a melancholic landscape crisscrossed by path lines and meandering streams, different on the left than on the right. The landscape was entirely invented by the artist. One can see unusual rock formations, cliffs, a dried-up riverbed, lakes at various heights, a flowing river over which a bridge rises. There are fragments of columns on both sides, probably painted at the end of the work's creation.
24.Lisa is painted in a central perspective, and the background is presented from a bird's eye view.
The painting is made in oil, using the "sfumato" technique (a smooth transition from dark to light areas, creating a blurred "soft" color effect). This technique, the way of depicting the figure and the background, gave the portrait a unique impression. Even the painter's contemporaries considered the portrait revolutionary.
25.What stands out most in the painting is the model's distinctive, enigmatic smile, making the portrait unique.
26.Observers of the Mona Lisa before the 19th century saw nothing mysterious in her smile.
At the time, the smile was said to be "more divine than human," but this was attributed to the unusual position of the Leonardo da Vinci model. Later interpreters of the smile saw in Mona Lisa as a femme fatale figure or "one of the courtesans of the 16th century." Others saw the experience of all historical epochs and "a symbol of the modern idea" in this smile.
27.Attempts have also been made to explain the mystery of the Mona Lisa's smile scientifically.
It has been found that Mona Lisa's smile becomes more pronounced when the observer looks into her eyes and disappears when he looks directly at her mouth. This difference is experienced because the human eye perceives the world in two different ways. When we look directly at an object, the light falls on the central part of the retina, allowing us to see relatively bright objects. On the other hand, when we look at something from the angle of the eye, the light falls on the outer part of the retina, which allows us to see the half-shadows better.
28.Employing both parts of the retina to perceive the nuances of the work properly was a deliberate effort of Leonardo.
The artist used the shadows cast by the cheekbones to make the lips darker than the rest of the face. When we look directly into Mona Lisa's eyes, her smile appears more evident to us - we then perceive it with the retina's outer part. When we look at the mouth, we perceive the darker part of the image, making the smile appear less prominent.
29.The Mona Lisa of the Louvre has never undergone restoration.
The only time it was restored was in the bathing salon of the Palace of Fontainebleau, where it was kept for fifty years before being moved to the upper floor of the Pavillon des Peintures. The royal curator at the time applied a thick layer of varnish to the surface, causing the portrait's colors to lose their intensity. Over the years, the varnish cracked, creating a network of cracks called craquelure.
30.In 2011, the Prado Museum in Madrid became interested in a work that looked deceptively similar to the Mona Lisa.
The painting was cleaned of its varnish (which turns yellow when exposed to light) and it turned out to be a copy of the famous portrait, painted at the same time as the original and probably in Leonardo's workshop. The author of the copy may have been one of his students. The copy from the Prado is in cool colors, while the coloring of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre is entirely different - it is supposed to be due to the varnish.