New Detail Spotted in the Mona Lisa?

Few paintings in history have been studied and scrutinised as much as the Mona Lisa. Countless millions of people have stood in front of the painting since Leonardo da Vinci committed it to canvas in 1503, and each and every one of those people will have taken something different away from their experience. It’s doubtful that da Vinci himself would have considered it his ultimate masterpiece – the Renaissance master considered himself more of a scientist than he did a painter – but it’s how the work has come to be seen. A lot of that is down to its enigmatic nature.

For all the fame of the Mona Lisa (which should correctly be referred to as La Gioconda), there are several details of the painting that experts can’t agree on. While it’s a commonly accepted fact that the subject of the painting is Lisa del Giocondo (hence its Italian name), there are scholars who debate that verdict. There are topics of debate about the artwork that are far more broad and general than that, though.


The Enigma of La Gioconda

Let’s begin with the most talked-about topic of debate that surrounds the Mona Lisa; the matter of whether or not Lisa del Giocondo – if she truly is the subject – is smiling in the painting. This is such a well-known argument that there’s even been a Julia Roberts-led movie made called “Mona Lisa Smile,” although the world-famous work of art has very little to do with the plot of the film. You might think that you’ve seen a definitive answer to this question. We assure you that you haven’t.

For every “conclusive” study performed that says the Mona Lisa is definitely smiling, there’s another equally “conclusive” study that says she isn’t. A new study on the topic is published almost every year, followed in short order by another study that flatly contradicts it. It’s almost as if da Vinci deliberately made his muse’s features open to interpretation so as to invite this debate, though we’re sure he’d be astonished to discover that it was still going on over five hundred years later.

The other big question about the Mona Lisa is whether or not she has eyebrows. It’s an unusual question, and it might be a surprising one if you’ve never encountered it before. Try to picture the painting in your mind, though. Don’t cheat; just summon the image and look at it with your mind’s eye. Does she have eyebrows, or doesn’t she? If you’re struggling to come up with an answer, you’re not the only one. Many a learned scholar has devoted far too much of their time to the question, and yet we’re no closer to having a definitive answer to it than we are to the question of whether or not she’s smiling.


A New Detail Emerges

There’s so much focus on the subject of the Mona Lisa that very few people ever stop to consider what’s going on in the background. Indeed, if you’re someone who has better things to do with their time than stare at ancient paintings, you might not be aware that there’s any detail in the background of the painting at all. There is, though; there’s a field, some trees, a body of water, and a bridge. It’s been thought for centuries that the background is something that came from Leonardo da Vinci’s imagination rather than something real, but the Italian historian Silvano Vinceti disagrees. He believes he’s identified the bridge, and in May 2023, he went public with his theory.

If Vinceti’s suspicions are correct, the bridge in the Mona Lisa is the Romito di Laterina bridge of Arezzo in Tuscany, Italy. It’s little more than a ruin today, but it would have looked very different during da Vinci’s lifetime. Vinceti isn’t just plucking a name out of the ether; he claims to have used drone images, historical documents, other paintings and contemporary photographs of the area before reaching his conclusion. Having done his research, he has no doubt that the Romito di Laterina – built by either the Romans or the Etruscans around five hundred years before da Vinci was born – is the correct candidate.

There are certain properties of the bridge and historical facts that Vinceti points to in support of his argument. The Romito di Laterina originally had four arches, as does the bridge in the background of the Mona Lisa. This makes it a better candidate than other bridges that have been suggested in the past, such as the Ponte Buriano, which doesn’t have the correct number. It’s also known that Leonardo da Vinci lived close to the Val d’Arno area – the region the bridge is in – between 1501 and 1503, thus fitting the timeline.

Is this definitive proof? No, of course it isn’t, but the very fact that the claim made mainstream news around the world is proof that even now, the public’s fascination with the world’s most famous painting shows no sign of abating.


The da Vinci Fascination

The public’s fascination with the Mona Lisa is part of a wider public fascination with Leonardo da Vinci himself, who may have been one of the most gifted human beings ever to have lived. The Mona Lisa story isn’t even the only da Vinci-related story to have made the news in recent weeks; we’re also aware of another story circulating about the possibility of a hidden message that appears in “The Last Supper.” The works of da Vinci continue to inspire music, films, television shows and stage plays – and that’s not all they inspire.

While thoughts of Leonardo da Vinci and his world-famous works might be the furthest thing from your mind when you log on to an online casino, you’ll still be confronted by them when you arrive. From Red Tiger’s Da Vinci’s Mystery to IGT’s Da Vinci Diamonds, plenty of companies that make slots and gambling games have used the master’s works to enhance their appeal. You could take your pick from any one of a hundred casinos and their sister sites, and you’d likely find a da Vinci creation staring back at you. Casino sister sites don’t remain popular for long if they don’t have the right casino games to bring in players, so if da Vinci is being used, it’s because he’s popular.

As exciting as it is that someone believes that they’ve found “the” Mona Lisa bridge, we have no doubt that someone else will identify another bridge in the future and make the same claim. We also have no doubt that people will still be talking about the painting’s smile and eyebrows another five hundred years from now. Through his art, Leonardo da Vinci has achieved a form of functional immortality. We wonder what he’d have thought of that.


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