Today, in the Louvre, after being imprisoned in a Swiss Vault for over 40 years, what is believed to be an earlier version of the Mona Lisa was unveiled.
The new Mona Lisa, dubbed the Isleworth Mona Lisa, is believed to be a painting by Leonardo da Vinci done a decade before the original Mona Lisa. A Zurich-based Mona Lisa Foundation claimed that it had compiled evidence that Leonardo indeed painted an earlier version of the Mona Lisa in which the young maiden is flanked by two columns.
The AFP states, “Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci, Italy, and a world-renowned expert on the artist and the Mona Lisa, whetted the appetites of the 100 journalists present for the occasion, describing the painting as ‘an important work of art’.”
However, there are critics as well; Martin Kemp, art historian and author at Oxford University stated that there were too many significant differences for these to be done by the same artist.
Of course, I will be one of many to admit that I simply do not know if it is painted by Leonardo da Vinci. However, I do think it a lovely painting. If it is by Leonardo, it is indicative of the fact that artists are sometimes drawn to the same subject matter, whether it be because of an undying curiosity or a much needed commission. If it is not by Leonardo, then it is a painting that is conducive to the revelation that we, as a people, learn best when we study and build upon those before us. Whether it be in music, poetry, drama, or visual arts (etc), the present is but an extension of what we believe is beautiful from the past and we are, whether to our benefit or our detriment, inherently connected to and influenced by that past.
I also can’t help but see this incident as evidence of our need to believe in what isn’t provable. History is not a series of facts arranged in chronological fashion, but a series of theories in which experts, or those whom have accumulated more information than others, have hypothesized around artifacts believed to be authentic; and when one of these artifacts, to spite the theories to which they are attached, loses their once authentic credibility, the whole belief system has to shift, change, and adapt to the new evidence. Thus, it would be wise for me to remember that Truth is rarely possessed but always examined and pursued, and I am therefore humbled to be reminded that my system of beliefs built upon the foundation that is the ideas of others is inherently flawed and far from Truthful.
Thank you for reading,