Mona Lisa debunked

Taryn Richardson, staff writer

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Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in 1503 in Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa was made with oil paint on a popular wood panel. The painting is known for her smile and her steady gaze, which makes it look like her eyes are following everyone around the room. Researchers say the subject is actually looking about 15 degrees to the right, perhaps over one’s shoulder.

Leonardo da Vinci was a painter, architect, inventor, and a student to all things scientific. He was born in Anchiano, Italy April 14, 1452 and died May 2, 1519. He was the illegitimate son of Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, a Florentine notary, and Caterina, a peasant who may have been a slave from the Middle East. Leonardo had no surname in the modern sense, “da Vinci” simply meaning “of Vinci” his full birth name was “Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci,” meaning “Leonardo, son of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci.” Today, he remains best known for his art; the two most famous is the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.  Da Vinci was mostly self- educated and had dozens of secret notebooks filled with inventions and observations and theories. Most of the stuff found in his notebook was hard to interpret.    

The Mona Lisa painting is so special, because it has been inspired to make romantic songs because many become captivated by Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile. The portrait also intrigued Margaret Livingstone, a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School who studies the human visual system. She looked at the portrait a couple years ago and saw Mona Lisa’s changing expression. Livingstone came to the conclusion that when she looked at Mona Lisa’s  mouth she was not smiling as much when she looked at her eyes. Livingstone says peripheral vision sees blurry image while central vision sees fine details.

Dr. Gernot Horstmann asked 24 study participants to look at the painting on a computer screen and asks the direction of her gaze. A folding ruler was positioned between them and the screen several different ways. The participants used the ruler to indicate where her gaze met the ruler. Horstmann also tested whether individual features of the face is what made people think Mona Lisa’s eyes were following her. He used fifteen different sections of the portrait, each image was shown randomly and the researchers would change the distance of the ruler from the monitor. Horstmann gathered more than two thousand assessments and almost every single measurement proved the her gaze is not straight on, but is actually looking to the viewer’s right side.

The Mona Lisa is an allusion–she isn’t actually following you. What is perceived on this painting is all about what the person are looking at. With peripheral vision people see blurry image and our central vision sees fine details, and that’s why people think Mona Lisa is following everyone.

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