Christopher G. has guts – “I don’t get it – what’s the big deal about Mona Lisa.” Not too many people dare to question icons. He had seen Mona Lisa when he was in his twenties and now he was going back for a second look. He admitted he saw much more this time. “I really looked at the background this time,” he said.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen Mona. But I can tell you this Mona may not have grown any older but as the viewer grows older you certainly do look at her differently. Here are the things that sprung to mind on this most recent visit:
1. Da Vinci was a breast man. You don’t believe me? Look at the focus of light in this painting. Maybe the reason Mona is smiling is because she knows it.
2. Forget about Mona’s smile for a minute. If you can. I know you can’t, but just look at her hands, her right hand in particular. It’s as if the hand is an actual living hand. If there’s anything miraculous about this painting – it’s Mona’s hand not her smile.
3. Mona’s entire face is in shadow – it is fixed into the smouldering landscape – her face has almost a deathly cast to it. I cannot help but wonder about the state of this woman’s health.
But this is truly what makes Mona Lisa a great painting and the icon of humanism – sooner or later you find yourself wondering about the person portrayed in the painting. A great painting is a window into a life.