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Deciphering Mona Lisa’s Smile for You!

by Tulsi Kadakia on March 19, 2021

Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings to have come from Leonardo da Vinci’s collection.

That’s a fact we all know.

We’ve listing some other mysteries that were uncovered related to Mona Lisa. It’s a great read, we must say!

We didn’t include a lot about the woman’s smile, but we’re here and we’re going to cover all our basis!

If you read the other article, you must know that the woman in the painting is Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, but might not know a lot about her smile.

Her ambiguous look is one of the primary reasons that Mona Lisa became this famous!

A little mystery always attracts attention, doesn’t it?

Image Credit: artupia

The mystery of Mona Lisa’s smile has baffled people for nearly 500 years. At first you see her smile, then it fades, only for it to return and vanish all over!

What’s going on with this portrait?

How in the world did da Vinci capture this expression and paint it so well?

And as you may have thought, the Italians have a word that explains Mona Lisa’s smile. It’s known as sfumato, meaning blurry, up to one’s imagination, and ambiguous.

A recent study involving 12 people concluded that the painting is thought to be happy 97% of the times.

In the study, participants were asked to look at 9 black and white replicas of the Mona Lisa. Of these 9 pictures, 8 were digitally manipulated without the knowledge of the participants. Of the 8, half were made to look sad and the other half to look happier.

Every participant was shown the pictures 30 times, they concluded the smile to be a happy one.

Now this was just one experiment. That doesn’t really prove anything, right?

So, there was another one!

This time around eight Mona Lisa’s were edited to look sad. The original was obviously said to be happy, but the manipulated images were found to be looking even sadder.

So, which one is it?

Do you think we shall leave it to the preference of the viewer?

Is that how Leonardo da Vinci wanted the portrait to be looked at?

Check out our digitally printed Mona Lisa and tell us what you feel about the art work!

Mona Lisa Canvas

Here’s an explanation that might stick with you!

According to neuroscientists, our visual system design determines; depending on the contrast and illumination, how we see an emotion.

In the case of Mona Lisa’s portrait, her expression might not be ambiguous, it might be our visual systems playing the major role!

Our eyes have two distinct regions that ensure we can see. One is the central area from where we identify colors, read, and pick out the details. The other part is known as the peripheral area from where we see motion, black and white colors, and shadows.

So, when we look at Mona Lisa’s face in the portrait, our eyes are looking at her eyes. This gives us a lesser accurate vision of her mouth. The peripheral vision is not really concerned with the smile, so it picks up the shadows on her cheeks.

These shadows are a sign that there is an enhanced curvature of the smile.

And then when our eyes finally go to Mona Lisa’s mouth, our central vision cannot see the shadows that were previously visible on her cheeks. Thus, the smile is gone.

This change in vision is what affects the presence and absence of her smile.

We must say that this should not take away from the mystery that da Vinci trying to create with Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo’s portrait.

There’s obviously some talent that da Vinci had because we don’t see painters re-creating this effect, even today!

What do you think of this logic?

What other arts would you like to know about?

We hope you found this information interesting and looking forward to reading more from us!

Finally, take a look at the story behind some famous paintings (and how they were stolen)!

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