Stop the presses… or is it the the servers? The Isleworth Mona Lisa gets “Confirmed as True” in the media, apparently because the foundation that bears her name – and is actively championing her status as an earlier version of the mysterious Florentine woman as a work of Leonardo – has … unveiled the results of new scientific tests, which, they claim, now prove her authenticity beyond the chiaroscuro of a doubt.
See the criss-cross jumble of lines in the above picture? They’re meant to showcase the work of Alfonso Rubino, an Italian expert in “sacred geometry.” The fancy compass-and-square work was released by the foundation to prove that there is the same perfected harmony of proportions in both Mona Lisas as there is in Leonardo’s sketch of the Vitruvian Man. The other test presented was a more prosaic carbon-dating test, performed by the official-sounding Zurich Federal Institute of Technology and those results point to something made between 1410 and 1455 – and not a century later.
Well, right after that spate of cheery news, the experts, who’ve since early-on cast doubt on the authorship of the younger portrait, have come out and taken down the tests as not being either conclusive – or serious enough.
Swissinfo reports that the Leonardo experts who have contested the attribution since the painting was unveiled, are still not convinced. Jan Blanc, an art history professor, and author of a book on Leonardo, dismisses the tests as belying a “total lack of control and evaluation” of the work, by the foundation. Martin Kemp, a recognized expert on Da Vinci, was more outspoken still, and has called the application of the “sacred geometry” lines to the portraits, as being “misguided” and “nonsense.” He points to the fact that many sketches by the Renaissance master exist, and that none of them shows Leonardo being obsessed with geometry – sacred or otherwise – beyond the inherent harmonic, proportions the Renaissance master’s works are imbued with.
The fact that the painting of the younger Mona Lisa is painted on canvas remains for Kemp the most glaring inconsistency, as painting on canvas was not common in the 1400s, other than for decorative banners, and that Leonardo himself never painted on canvas, preferring the smoother surfaces of wood panels.
The foundation is un-phased, and retorts that Kemp has never seen the painting. They plan on a five-year world tour, for their portrait, starting in Singapore, Hong Kong, and China, and then moving to the US, and Europe.
Previously on Art is Life: