Sun, 13 Dec 2015
Under the Mona Lisa

The BBC have made an excellent television program with Andrew Graham-Dixon about the mystery of Leonardo's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, known in France as La Gioconda.

In the Secrets of the Mona Lisa, Graham-Dixon travels to Florence, Singapore, Oxford and Paris to investigate the existence of a second portrait, one that more closely matches early eyewitness accounts (including a drawing Raphael made).

Right: Reconstruction of the painting Cotte finds underneath the Mona Lisa.

The discoveries made by French scientist Pascal Cotte using a scientific technique he invented called Layer Amplification Method are intriguing. A hidden painting underneath the painting we know. Is this the real Lisa Gherardini?

Left: Raphael's drawing of the original Mona Lisa? ('Young Woman on a Balcony’).

Jonathan Jones in the Guardian is sceptical :

Cotte has forgotten that Leonardo was a genius. Of course he did not do anything so banal as paint someone else on top of his portrait of a Florentine woman. What he did was so much more fascinating. He worked on this portrait until the face of a real person was transformed into a myth.

Well, who knows? But all are agreed: this is fascinating stuff. A great television programm with Andrew Graham-Dixon superb as our guide and interpreter. Highly recommended.