Photo Of The Day: Seeing Mona Lisa

Nearly every visitor to Paris‘ Louvre Museum will tell you that, once they fight through the crowds to see her, it is surprising how small the famous “Mona Lisa” painting is in person. Today’s Photo of the Day shows both the crowds of tourists eager to photograph her, and the relative scale of da Vinci’s lady (30 x 21 inches, if you are wanted to know) to other paintings in the museum. It reminds me of an exhibition by German artist Thomas Struth, who documented museum visitors all over the world, making them the subjects rather than the artwork. We get a sense of perspective about museums, art and travel, and it makes you think maybe you should just get a postcard of the popular portrait rather than take the same crowded photo as millions before you.

Share your favorite travel photos in the Gadling Flickr pool, or on Instagram by tagging @gadlingtravel and using hashtag #gadling. You might see one of your shots as a future Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Kumakulanui]

National Gallery in London opens Da Vinci exhibition today

London’s National Gallery is hosting an exhibition of the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci. The show, titled Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, focuses on the paintings of the famous genius rather than his many other projects. It brings together nine of the only 15 or 16 paintings known to be his. The gallery boasts that it’s the most complete collection of his paintings ever shown.

The Mona Lisa is not among them. Personally I consider it Da Vinci’s least compelling work. Perhaps that’s just because I’ve seen it too much, or maybe I was influenced by my art history teacher who, while giving us a slideshow on Renaissance art, got to the Mona Lisa and wearily said, “The Mona Lisa. Is she smiling or isn’t she? Who cares?” and then went on to the next slide. Maybe if she went into the theory that it shows Da Vinci in drag I would have been more interested.

One of the paintings on display is Christ as Salvator Mundi, which is the subject of a heated debate within art circles as to whether it’s by Da Vinci or one of his students. Hanging beside known works of Da Vinci, you’ll have the chance to judge for yourself.

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan runs until 5 February 2012.

Photo of the Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani courtesy Web Gallery of Art.

Mona Lisa mob marvels Miami

It’s the most iconic painting ever made. The Mona Lisa, painted in the early 16th century by Leonardo Da Vinci, has inspired a whole genre of painting. Perhaps the first imitation was this one by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, Da Vinci’s favorite pupil.

Since then the Mona Lisa has been reproduced on countless coffee mugs, handbags, t-shirts, mousepads, even toothpaste.

Now the Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College is examining this artistic obsession with Mona Lisa Unveiled, an exhibition that traces the influence of Mona Lisa on subsequent artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Jean Margat, and Salvador Dalì.

The painting inspired thieves too. The exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. An Italian named Vincenzo Peruggia hid in a broom closet until the museum closed, and then made off with the painting. He later claimed he wanted it returned to its native Italy. He fled to Florence and kept it in his apartment for two years before trying to sell it to a local gallery. The art dealer did the right thing and called the cops. Peruggia was hailed as an Italian hero and only did a few months in prison.

Mona Lisa Unveiled runs through October 7.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Mona Lisa was a man, says expert

An Italian researcher, Silvano Vinceti, has an opinion about Mona Lisa: she was a he. Vinceti announced today that a male apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci was the real model for the famous painting. Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salai, studied under Leonardo and he was a longtime companion of his. Vinceti speculates that Caprotti may have also been a lover of Leonardo’s. After all, artists’ lovers are often times their muses.

In Vinceti’s release of this news, he makes a point to say that the portrait represents a synthesis of Leonardo’s scientific, artistic, and philosophical beliefs. Leonardo worked on this portrait for several years, at various intervals. Because of this, he was subjected to different influences and inspiration sources. The canvas is also full of hidden symbolic messages and meanings. Caprotti worked with Leonardo for more than two decades beginning in 1490. Although their relationship seems to be definitively ambiguous, many art historians agree with Vinceti and believe that Caprotti was Leonardo’s lover.

And hey, I just want to point out, the letters for the name ‘Lisa’ are found in the name ‘Salai’. Read more on this discovery at ABC. [Thanks, ABC]

Is the Mona Lisa really Da Vinci in drag?

When Marcel Duchamp put a mustache and goatee on the Mona Lisa, he might have guessed more than he knew.

Italian researchers are requesting permission to dig up Leonardo Da Vinci’s grave to prove their theory that his most famous painting is actually a self-portrait. Anthropologist Giorgio Gruppione wants to examine Da Vinci’s skull to see if it has structural similarities to the mysterious woman in the portrait. This process of facial reconstruction is usually reserved for murder victims, but could give evidence to support or refute the theory and add a new possibility for the origins of that enigmatic smile.

There’s been a great deal of discussion among historians as to Da Vinci’s sexuality. In 1476 he was brought before a judge in Florence on charges of sodomy with a male prostitute. Da Vinci claimed the young man was merely his model. They were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Da Vinci never married and claimed the act of reproduction was “disgusting”. He had a serious of close relationships with young men throughout his life but was never charged with sodomy again, perhaps because that close call in Florence taught him caution.

It’s doubtful that authorities in France, where Da Vinci is buried, will give permission to desecrate the grave of one of the world’s most famous artists just to prove he was a cross dresser, so probably we’ll just have to settle for the Transsexual Jesus.