Mona Lisa's secret

(It is translation from Russian into English language of the author. Excuse for mistakes.)

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Igor Ladov (Lipatov)

In the Louvre, a hall with Mona Lisa.



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I have noticed this feature of a picture already enough for a long time, but did not speak about it. One of the reasons was doubt, that so obvious somebody could notice and up to me as interest to a picture "Mona Lisa" Leonardo Da Vinci constantly renews. But I read about this picture much, however anywhere was not spoken about that feature which I have noticed. However, I cannot exclude, that someone about it already wrote, especially because I am not the expert in the fine arts. Concerning it I have come across Leonardo's words which have given to me to confidence: "Well I know, that to some arrogant men because I am not widely-read, will seem, as if they have a right to blame me, referring to that I the person without book education. Silly people! They do not understand, that as Marius has answered Roman patrician, I could so to answer them speaking: "You, which have decorated yourselves with other's works, you do not wish to recognize for me is right on my own". Will tell, that, not being the language and literature teacher, I cannot well tell about what I wish to treat. They do not know, what my knowledge more, than from another's words, are taken from experience, which was the mentor of those who well wrote; and I take it to myself in mentor and in all cases to it I shall refer". *

* From time of the publication of this article has passed enough time for confidently to speak, that this method of painting Leonardo Da Vinci has been found for the first time.


Recently I was in Paris and in the Louvre saw the original "Mona Lisa", and fresh impressions, at last, promoted me to write this article. In the Louvre for this picture the special place in a big hall is allocated, it is located behind armour glass. Around of a picture it is a lot of people from all world. But what attracts them to it?

"Mona Lisa" or "La Gioconda" (The full Italian name - "Ritratto di Monna Lisa del Giocondo".) the most known picture Leonardo Da Vinci. Popularity at general public does not guarantee that creation is great. The majority of people praises great creations, is simple because all know, that they great. Often also praise from fear to pass for uneducated or not having good taste. Arthur Schopenhauer's opinion is correct, that in the beginning often nobody notices great work, because nobody understands. But after the long time, estimated by few people able to understand, such works become famous. There is an opinion, so to say, that time is good judge for works of art, eliminating momentary and silly hobbies of crowd. Such fleeting hobbies quickly vary with alternation of generations, and the glory of great works remains. However, in my opinion, it is possible to doubt of indisputability of authority of time in an estimation of great works. For example, how many great Ancient Greece sculptures were not kept till our time. Hardly correctly to believe, that those few that was kept and is the best, that has been created. And without talent of product of the past are kept sometimes very long.

Therefore I try to estimate any product independently, so as if I never heard about it of any opinions. What my impression of this portrait? The most important in impression of a picture this sensation of the quiet, contemplate happiness reminding of eternity, which come from the represented woman. The look gives sensation, that all is good, all is perfect also it will always last. This sensation is created, mainly, with expression of eyes and an easy smile of a mouth. In expression of eyes too an easy smile, the look does not give sensation of levity what can be seen on female portraits, but profound wisdom. Great value have in a picture hands, beautiful, aristocratical, represented in quiet, convenient position, emphasizing sensation of happiness about which it was spoken above. Leonardo, apparently, tried to limit sexual impression of the represented woman, neither in a pose, nor in a look there is no strongly pronounced sexual playfulness. A little bit negative impression creates some darkness of a picture and a light spectrum, in which a lot of brown color, but, probably, this consequence of influence of time for paints. The represented woman hardly can be reckon unusually beautiful. But force of this picture not in beauty of the woman, but in the impression made by a picture, which arises from method of painting used by the artist. And in it not small value has a landscape on a background of a portrait.

The tempestuous landscape creates contrast with calmness and contemplate happiness Mona Lisa. We see rocks raised upwards with the sharp edges, the winding river and a winding road. It makes impression of movement, momentary changing existence, with its difficulties and tempestuous events. It is possible to tell, that in a landscape is not present alive, that, probably, speaks about desire to represent the world rough and "material", in contrast with the world of a life and light reason which we see in the represented woman. Mona Lisa is represented above changeable, passing and rough, and symbolizes a life and reason.

Once I have noticed, that a landscape behind Mona Lisa coming to an end on the one side, as if continue with another. If to put beside two copies of a picture, that I all over again and have made, this feature is unobvious. There is no full accordance, but I have noticed that a landscape, probably, continue from one copy in another. Obvious accordance has appeared, when I have a little removed copies from each other, and at once unusual feature became visible.



So, clearly to see this effect, this used Leonardo method of painting, it is necessary to arrange two copies of a picture on small distance from each other. Let's consider a landscape on two copies as though it is the whole, in area where between copies there is a small distance, following from top to down. Distant rocks it is necessary only several strokes to become the whole ridge. Below we see, that the river at the left, or most probably this lake from which the river effluent, has continuation on the right as a thin strip. The rock limiting lake, also very obviously goes with is left on the right, along lake, slightly rising upwards. Now draw attention to a rock about the bridge through a winding river at the left. The rock on the right very precisely continues a rock at the left, the ridge goes on a diagonal of a picture. And other parts of a landscape very obviously supplement each other.

Now we shall draw attention to road. Where the road from the bridge follows? Neither upwards, nor downstream the river along coast we do not see road. However it is direct in a direction from the bridge we see rise of road and small shadow, that, probably, there is a crevice between peaks of a rock. And now it becomes clear, where the road follows, passing through the bridge to the right of Mona Lisa (If we consider one picture) the road proceeds, curve to the left of she, probably, passing behind her back, it again follows on the bridge, forming the closed line. We do not see, how the road follows behind Mona Lisa, but it is unlikely that the road to the left of she does not follow on the bridge, in fact it is curve to direction to the bridge. So Leonardo Da Vinci has closed a landscape in a circle and has closed and the road represented on it.



Probably, as the stream of the river has been conceived by Leonardo as closed in circulation. For example, the lake and the river effluent from it can represent a circulation of water, which, evaporating from the river, comes back in lake with rains. Or obviously run out from lake to the right of Mona Lisa, to the left of it the surface of water as though leaves in a distance, probably, meaning returning in lake. Probably also, that the strip of lake passing from edge up to edge of a picture, but it is hidden by a part rocks, a part head Mona Lisa.

Why for accordance it is necessary to remove two copies from each other? In the beginning I have assumed, that the part of width of a picture is hidden by a frame, however this should not be significant. Then I have draw attention to object on a parapet at the left and on the right for Mona Lisa. It turned out that it is the bases of columns. The width of a column just also assumes filling a place between two copies. The opinion expressed, that columns earlier in a picture were visible more full, and then edges of a picture for any reason have been cut off. There is an opinion that columns earlier in a picture were visible more full, and then edges of a picture for any reason have been cut off. The ancient copy of a picture is known, on which columns are visible more widely. Also there is an assumption that the copy has been made before edges of a picture have been cut off. However, in my opinion, it is possible to assume also, that the artist copied a picture, having seen small parts of columns, has decided to expand a little on a copy space and to draw columns more full. As this copy, especially a landscape is drawn not so carefully.

Anyhow, columns should close the blank space, in the beginning drawn completely or only as small parts of columns. The distance between two copies, necessary for occurrence of described effect just approximately should be such, that parts of the bases of columns, visible on the right and to the left of Mona Lisa, have as though made one column. Thus the rectangular basis has return prospect, i.e. with removal from the observer the width increases. In painting such method is admissible and known. On such distance it is visible, that at the top view the rectangular basis should have the form of a square, what happens usually at round columns. The width between two copies assumes a column, visible in a picture a little. The width between two copies as though assumes width of a column, visible in a picture a little. From that that distance this small, is visible that columns intended narrow enough. *

* In detail bases of columns and other details of a picture can be considered on a site of the Louvre where there is a copy with the high quality (


What wished to tell Leonardo the image of closed in circulation in a landscape? Here the model of our World stated Friedrich Nietzsche is recollected, on which I reason in the book "World outlook": "In it events in the Universe make "is a great year of Becoming", "it must, like a sand-glass, ever turn up anew, that it may anew run down and run out", ad all events in it do not change, and remain former: "we have already existed times without number, and all things with us".

Though I not the supporter of this model of the Universe, model of "eternal return", it is certainly interesting. There is a question, whether genius Leonardo Da Vinci to the same conclusions that genius Friedrich Nietzsche has come? Whether the same model of the Universe is presented in picture Mona Lisa, expressed in numerous recurrence of a symbol of circulation of movement in a landscape in a picture? The landscape "flowing" from one copy of a picture on another, as though conducts to an idea on an infinite number of pictures on which it proceeds infinitely and on which all again repeats.

Leonardo is known for breadth of the talent. He was inclined and to philosophy to what shows its works as the writer. Whether there can be great an artist, the poet or the musician, if he somewhat not the philosopher? Therefore Leonardo Da Vinci could come to world outlook, to model of the Universe similar to that to which later has come Friedrich Nietzsche. All people capable to creative thinking know, how often so happens, that any idea to which you come in the reflections, then found in works of great people of the past.

Arthur Schopenhauer wrote: "All original thinkers in a basis converge between themselves, and their all distinction results only from the point of view; where those does not change business, there all of them speak the same. For they only state that have objectively learn. Often there were, that those idea which I only having thought, dared to state public, for because of their paradoxicality, subsequently, to joyful amazement, found already stated in old writing of great people. The book philosopher, opposite to that, narrates that spoke one, and that another thought, and that again believed the third, etc. He compares it, weighs, criticizes and tries to find thus a trace of true, and it quite assimilates to the historical critic". It, perhaps, is a little bit exaggerated, that original thinkers speak same, but they often come to similar conclusions. And Leonardo Da Vinci and Friedrich Nietzsche could come to similar conclusions concerning the device of the Universe and it "the eternal return" and " the year of Becoming".

The image of circulation, maybe, however, and simply symbol of infinity, instead of returning, as hints at eternal movement. Therefore it is probable also, that symbolism of landscape Leonardo wished to express simple symbol of eternity of existence. In that case it, probably, speaks about optimistic world outlook Leonardo. Really, model Nietzsche is difficult for naming optimistical, also as models of development of the Universe in the modern physics in which Universe after "Big Bang" or perishes in infinite expansion of space, or perishes in the compression of space replacing expansion. The optimistic model of the Universe, in my opinion, should assume eternal existence of the Universe, as it is assumed with my model in which development of the Universe is directed to appearance in the future as a result of evolution of the God, the supreme being capable to transformation by the Universe in a perfect condition. In this model the God did not exist in the beginning of making of the Universe, but to his appearance evolution of the Universe is directed.

The circulation represented in a picture, can be as simple symbol of that much in the Universe occurs in movement on a circle or on a spiral. It, probably, is the most simple explanation.

Many people admire with this portrait. But "Mona Lisa" makes upon some people negative impression. In A.L.Volynsky's book "Life Leonardo Da Vinci" can be read through, that "Mona Lisa" is not beautiful, that she "the old woman though on her the face is not any wrinkle", that she is absent moral force, that she the woman "without internal fire, fruitless in the feelings, powerless for the heroic feat, not capable even on obvious evil deed", that she is "not the image of the alive person, and a conventional symbol of very complex idea", that "Gioconda seems left of a dark vault", that "she in anybody does not raise simple, integral sensation and feeling of beauty", that "Leonardo Da Vinci in this product is the mysterious magician, any cold dreamer who has transformed an alive human nature in a demonic chimera", that "so portraits are not drawn, so experiments are made only".

What the reason of such different impression of a picture made on different people: admiration and negative impression? Really, represented woman is difficult for naming an ideal of beauty, though she is beautiful enough. . But not all outstanding female portraits represent exclusively beauties. The main thing in this portrait idea and impression caused by it. The main thing in this portrait idea and impression of it. I think, that this portrait attempt to represent divine essence. And this essence is represented not simply in a portrait of the woman, it arises in interaction of the spectator and a picture. This expression of eyes Mona Lisa, unusual smile, the form and position of hands, are destined for calling in the spectator of superhuman and divine sensation. As the background serves it a landscape representing movement of the "material" and rough world.

Methods of painting representing circulation of movement about which it was spoken above, can not be realized by the spectator, but subconsciously make upon his impression. Riddle of Mona Lisa's smile that it represents strongly developed personality and individuality. Individuality of advanced reason, but this reason not simply looks at the spectator, and suggests it to become on its level. Whether but many people are capable of feeling of such height which is caused with a picture? Whether but many people are capable of feeling of such height which is given with a picture? No, therefore the picture gives or exalted admiration which withdraws the spectator from the valid impression made by a picture, or opposite in a picture start to see a lot of bad, that also withdraws from the valid impression. Thus, Gioconda is original test for height of spirit and reason which neither those, nor others do not stand. Also exist, certainly, indifferent spectators who are unable or do not wish to consider this picture emotionally.

This idea superhuman, expressed in picture Leonardo Da Vinci, is close to understanding superhuman Friedrich Nietzsche, expressed by his, first of all, in work "Thus Spake Zarathustra. A Book for All and None". And "Mona Lisa" remains a picture "for all and for none".

In work of A.L.Volynsky above mentioned in the same place where the reasoning on "Mona Lisa", there is an interesting phrase: "You have once talking about Nietzsche. From this person poisonous trend, cold trend flows, from which sprout of a young life wither. This same trend which capture mighty soul Leonardo Da Vinci". It is interesting, that the idea of the author of this phrase (And he as follows from the text, a some interlocutor Volynsky) has to draw a parallel between Leonardo Da Vinci and Friedrich Nietzsche. But he does not understand and does not accept this great conception which just serves appearance of the higher life.

It is possible, that the idea superhuman, expressed in picture Leonardo Da Vinci, is close and to how I understand it, and my world outlook is in many respects close in philosophy Nietzsche. I understand idea superhuman as evolutionary development of the Universe which should lead to appearance of the Superman and the God. Mona Lisa with her unusual smile speaks about feeling of the higher reason feeling his perfection and his forthcoming eternal life. Therefore imperfect and mortal people by the nature cannot correctly perceive and understand sensation which gives a picture, as Leonardo has achieved surprising heights in this work. There is in look Mona Lisa a kindness? Yes is, but Mona Lisa tells to the spectator about special, superhuman, divine kindness.

So, the picture "Mona Lisa" gives the spectator sensation of superhuman, divine, happy reason above infinitely existing and varying rough, "material" world. I think plan Leonardo Da Vinci was those, but, though the plan was great, it not was is made in full perfection, as it is attempt great, but only the person to create superhuman or divine creation. However it is attempt surprising on the force and height.


Igor Ladov (Lipatov)

© I.P. Lipatov (Ladov), 2010.

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