Essential Architecture-  Architecture in the Da Vinci Code

Da Vinci art

Leonardo's Vitruvian Man The Vitruvian Man
Vitruvius, the architect, says in his work on architecture that the measurements of the human body are as follows that is that 4 fingers made 1 palm, and 4 palms make 1 foot, 6 palms make 1 cubit; 4 cubits make a man's height. And 4 cubits make one pace and 24 palms make a man. The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height. From the roots of his hair to the bottom of his chin is the tenth of a man’s height; from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head is one eighth of his height; from the top of the breast to the roots of the hair will be the seventh part of the whole man. From the nipples to the top of the head will be the fourth part of man. The greatest width of the shoulders contains in itself the fourth part of man. From the elbow to the tip of the hand will be the fifth part of a man; and from the elbow to the angle of the armpit will be the eighth part of man. The whole hand will be the tenth part of the man. The distance from the bottom of the chin to the nose and from the roots of the hair to the eyebrows is, in each case the same, and like the ear, a third of the face.

Text from: The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Vol. 1 (of a 2 vol. set in paperback) pp. 182-3, Dover, ISBN 0-486-22572-0. See the note below-left regarding da Vinci’s drawings.

The Mona Lisa.

The Vitruvian Man.

Codex with reverse handwriting.

Da Vinci self-portrait.

Mona Lisa 
Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1503–1507 
oil on poplar, 77 × 53 cm 
Musée du Louvre 
Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda (La Joconde), is a 16th century oil painting on poplar wood by Leonardo da Vinci and is one of the most famous paintings in Western art history. Few other works of art are as romanticized, celebrated, or reproduced. It is owned by the French government and hangs in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

The painting shows a woman looking out at the viewer with what is described as an "enigmatic smile".

Title of the painting
The title Mona Lisa stems from the Giorgio Vasari biography of Leonardo da Vinci, published 31 years after Leonardo's death. In it, he identified the sitter as Lisa, the wife of wealthy Florentine businessman Francesco del Giocondo. "Mona" is a common Italian contraction of "madonna," meaning "my lady," the equivalent of the English "Madam", so the title means "Madam Lisa." In modern Italian the short form of "madonna" is usually spelled "Monna," so the title is sometimes, though rarely, given as Monna Lisa.

The alternative title La Gioconda is the feminine form of Giocondo. In Italian giocondo also means 'light-hearted' ('jocund' in English), so "gioconda" means "light hearted woman". Because of her smile, this version of the title plays on this double-meaning, as in the French "La Joconde."

Both Mona Lisa and La Gioconda became established as titles for the painting in the 19th century. Before these names became established, the painting had been referred to by various descriptive phrases, such as "a certain Florentine lady" and "a courtesan in a gauze veil."

It is probable that Leonardo began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503, and, according to Vasari, completed it four years later.

Early copy of the Mona Lisa, in Walters Gallery, Baltimore, showing the columns
Leonardo took the painting from Italy to France in 1516 when King François I invited the painter to work at the Clos Lucé near the king's castle in Amboise. The King bought the painting for 4,000 écus.

After Leonardo's death the painting was cut down by having part of the panel at both sides removed. Originally there were columns on both sides of the figure, as we know from early copies. The edges of the bases can still be seen.

The painting first resided in Fontainebleau, and later resided in the Palace of Versailles. After the French Revolution, it was moved to the Louvre. Napoleon I had it moved to his bedroom in the Tuileries Palace; later it was returned to the Louvre. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, it was moved from the Louvre to a hiding place elsewhere in France.

The painting was not well-known until the mid-19th century, when artists of the emerging Symbolist movement began to appreciate it, and associated it with their ideas about feminine mystique. Critic Walter Pater, in his 1867 essay on Leonardo, expressed this view by describing the figure in the painting as a kind of mythic embodiment of eternal femininity, who is "older than the rocks among which she sits" and who "has been dead many times and learned the secrets of the grave".

The painting's increasing fame was further emphasised when it was stolen on August 21, 1911. The next day, Louis Béroud, a painter, walked into the Louvre and went to the Salon Carré where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years. However, where the Mona Lisa should have stood, in between Correggio's Mystical Marriage and Titian's Allegory of Alfonso d'Avalos, he found four iron pegs.

Béroud contacted the section head of the guards, who thought the painting was being photographed. A few hours later, Béroud checked back with the section head of the museum, and it was confirmed that the Mona Lisa was not with the photographers. The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid in the investigation of the theft.

On September 6, avant-garde French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down", was arrested and put in jail on suspicion of the theft. His friend Pablo Picasso was brought in for questioning, but both were later released. At the time, the painting was believed lost forever. It turned out that Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it simply by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet, and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Con-man Eduardo de Valfierno master-minded the theft, and had commissioned the French art forger Yves Chaudron to make copies of the painting so he could sell them as the missing original. Because he didn't need the original for his con, he never contacted Peruggia again after the crime. After keeping the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was caught when he attempted to sell it to a Florence art dealer; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913.

Other incidents
During World War II the painting was again removed from the Louvre and taken to safety, first in Chateau Amboise, then in the abbey of Loc-Dieu and finally in the Ingres Museum in Montauban.

Tourists viewing the Mona Lisa through security glass (prior to 2005 move)
In 1956, the lower part of the painting was severely damaged when someone doused it with acid. On December 30 of that same year, Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a young Bolivian, damaged the painting by throwing a rock at it. The result was a speck of pigment near Mona Lisa's left elbow. The painting is now covered by bulletproof security glass.

From December 14, 1962 to March of 1963, the French government lent it to the United States to be displayed in New York City and Washington D.C. In 1974, the painting exhibited in Tokyo and Moscow before being returned to the Louvre.

Prior to the 1962-63 tour, the painting was assessed for insurance purposes at $100 million. According to the Guinness Book of Records, this makes the Mona Lisa the most valuable painting ever insured [1]. As an expensive painting, it has only recently been surpassed by Pablo Picasso's Garçon à la pipe, which was sold for $104.1 million on May 4, 2004. However, this does not account for the change in prices due to inflation -- $100 million in 1962 is approximately $608 million in 2004 when adjusted for inflation using the US consumer price index. [2].

On April 6, 2005 — following a period of curatorial maintenance, recording, and analysis — the painting was moved, within the Louvre, to a new home in the museum's Salle des Etats. It is displayed in a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure behind unbreakable, bullet proof glass. [3]

Identity of the model

Lisa Gherardini
Vasari identified the subject to be the wife of socially prominent Francesco del Giocondo. It is known that del Giocondo, a wealthy silk merchant of Florence and a prominent government figure, lived. Until recently, little was known about his wife, Lisa Gherardini, except that she was born in 1479 and raised at the family's Villa Vignamaggio in Tuscany, and that she married del Giocondo in 1495.

However in 2004 the Italian scholar Giuseppe Pallanti published Monna Lisa, Mulier Ingenua (Mona Lisa: Real Woman), a book in which he gathered archival evidence in support of the traditional identification of the model as Lisa Gherardini. According to Pallanti the evidence suggests that Leonardo's father was a friend of Lisa's husband. "The portrait of Mona Lisa, done when Lisa Gherardini was aged about 24, was probably commissioned by Leonardo's father himself for his friends as he is known to have done on at least one other occasion".[4] Pallanti discovered that Lisa and Francesco had five children and that she outlived her husband. She lived at least into her 60s, though no record of her death was located. Most scholars now agree that she was indeed the model.

Other suggestions
Despite this, various alternatives to the traditional sitter have been proposed. During the last years of his life, Leonardo spoke of a portrait "of a certain Florentine lady done from life at the request of the magnificent Giuliano de' Medici." No evidence has been found that indicates a link between Lisa Gherardini and Giuliano de' Medici, but then the comment could instead refer to one of the two other portraits of women executed by da Vinci. A later anonymous statement created confusion when it linked the Mona Lisa to a portrait of Francesco del Giocondo himself – perhaps the origin of the controversial idea that it is the portrait of a man.

Dr. Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs suggests that the Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait. She supports this theory with the results of a digital analysis of the facial features of Leonardo's face and that of the famous painting. When flipping a self-portrait drawing by Leonardo and then merging that with an image of the Mona Lisa using a computer, the features of the faces align perfectly. Claims were made that Leonardo was homosexual and thus wanted to paint himself as a woman. Critics of this theory suggest that the similarities are due to both portraits being painted by the same person using the same style. Additionally, the drawing on which she based the comparison may not be a self-portrait.

Maike Vogt-Lüerssen argues that the woman behind the famous smile is Isabella of Aragon, the Duchess of Milan. Leonardo was the court painter for the Duke Of Milan for 11 years. The pattern on Mona Lisa's dark green dress, Vogt-Lüerssen believes, indicates that she was a member of the house of Visconti-Sforza. Her theory is that the Mona Lisa was the first official portrait of the new Duchess of Milan, which requires that it was painted in spring or summer 1489 (and not 1503).


Detail of the face, showing the subtle shading effect of sfumato, particularly in the shadows around the eyes
The portrait presents the subject from just above the bust, with a distant landscape visible as a backdrop. Leonardo used a pyramid design to place the woman simply and calmly in the space of the painting. Her folded hands form the front corner of the pyramid. Her breast, neck, and face glow in the same light that softly models her hands. The light gives the variety of living surfaces an underlying geometry of spheres and circles, which includes the arc of her famous smile. Sigmund Freud interpreted the 'smile' as signifying Leonardo's erotic attraction to his dear mother; others have described it as both innocent and inviting. It is said by some that the painting is centered on the heart, as is illustrated in this version.

Many researchers have tried to explain why the smile is seen so differently by people. The explanations range from scientific theories about human vision to curious supposition about Mona Lisa's identity and feelings. Professor Margaret Livingstone of Harvard University has argued that the smile is mostly drawn in low spatial frequencies, and so can best be seen with one's peripheral vision [5]. Christopher Tyler and Leonid Kontsevich of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco believe that the changing nature of the smile is caused by variable levels of random noise in human visual system [6]. Dina Goldin, Adjunct Professor at Brown University, has argued that the secret is in the non-static position of Mona Lisa's facial muscles, where our mind's eye unconsciously extends her smile; the result is an unusual dynamicity to the face that invokes subtle yet strong emotions in the viewer of the painting [7].

It is also notable that Mona Lisa has no visible facial hair at all - including eyebrows and eyelashes. This is probably because it was common at this time for genteel women to shave them off, since they were considered to be unsightly. For modern viewers this adds to the slightly mysterious semi-abstract quality of the face.

The enigmatic woman is portrayed seated in what appears to be an open loggia with dark pillar bases on either side. Behind her a vast landscape recedes to icy mountains. Winding paths and a distant bridge give only the slightest indications of human presence. The blurred outlines, graceful figure, dramatic contrasts of light and dark, and overall feeling of calm are characteristic of Leonardo's style.

The painting was one of the first portraits to depict the sitter before an imaginary landscape. One interesting feature of the landscape is that it is uneven. The landscape to the left of the figure is noticeably lower than that to the right of her. This has led some critics to suggest that it was added later.

The painting has been restored numerous times; X-ray examinations have shown that there are three versions of the Mona Lisa hidden under the present one. The thin poplar backing is beginning to show signs of deterioration at a higher rate than previously thought, causing concern from museum curators about the future of the painting.

Role in popular culture and avant-garde art
The Mona Lisa has acquired an almost iconic status in popular culture. In 1963, pop artist Andy Warhol started making colorful serigraph prints of the Mona Lisa. Warhol thus consecrated her as a modern icon, similar to Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley. At the same time, his use of a stencil process and crude colors implies a criticism of the debasement of aesthetic values in a society of mass production and mass consumption. Today the Mona Lisa is frequently reproduced, finding its way on to everything from carpets to mouse pads.

As a cult painting, the Mona Lisa has enjoyed countless references in both popular culture and avant-garde art. It has been a subject of many songs, including:

"Mona Lisa" (1950), a ballad sung by Nat King Cole comparing his love to the painting, was the#1 Billboard Pop single for 8 weeks and went on to sell 3 million copies. The song was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the film Captain Carey, USA and was awarded an Oscar. It was later used in the 1986 film "Mona Lisa". A cover of the song appears on the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes album "Take a Break." "Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you, you're so like the lady with the mystic smile." 
Bob Dylan's song "Visions of Johanna" (1966), which includes the lines "But Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues./You can tell by the way she smiles." 
"Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters", a song on Elton John's 1972 album, Honky Chateau. It rose to#1 in the Billboard Music Charts 
"Mona Lisa", the first track on country singer Willie Nelson's 1981 album, Somewhere over the Rainbow. The album rose to#1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. [9] 
"Mona Lisa", a song on hip hop performer Slick Rick's 1988 album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. The album rose to#1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. 
"Mona Lisa", is the first track on rock singer Jesse Malin's 2004 album, The Heat. 
"A Mona Lisa", an unreleased song by the popular rock band Counting Crows. It was written by lead singer Adam Duritz [10] and recorded in 1992. [11] 
"Mona Lisa", a song by the German electro-rock band Unheilig suggests her smile is the result of the singer's hand underneath her skirt. 
"Mona Lisa", a rare song by Britney Spears. The song tells of a legendary female icon named "Mona Lisa" who has fallen from grace and is simply remembered for being mysterious and enigmatic, much like the painting. Interpretations of the lyrics have led to the comparisons between the Mona Lisa and Spears's career. 
There have been many films, inspired by the painting that used variations of La Gioconda and Mona Lisa as titles. Some of these are about the painting itself, while others, such as the 1986 comedy drama Mona Lisa or the 2003 feminist drama Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts are about women whose characters were inspired by the painting.

L.H.O.O.Q, a Mona Lisa parody by dadaist Marcel Duchamp.
The avant-garde art world has also taken note of the undeniable fact of the Mona Lisa's popularity. Because of the painting's overwhelming stature, Dadaists and Surrealists often produce modifications and caricatures. In 1919, Marcel Duchamp, one of the most influential Dadaists, made a Mona Lisa parody by adorning a cheap reproduction with a moustache and a goatee, as well as adding the rude inscription L.H.O.O.Q., when read out loud in French sounds like "Elle a chaud au cul" (translating to "she has a hot arse" as a manner of implying the woman in the painting is in a state of sexual excitement and availability). This was intended as a Freudian joke, referring to Leonardo's alleged homosexuality. According to Rhonda R. Shearer, the apparent reproduction is in fact a copy partly modelled on Duchamp's own face. [12] Salvador Dalí, famous for his pioneering surrealist work, painted Self portrait as Mona Lisa in 1954.

Many works played, often in a humorous way, on the mysteries and controversies of Mona Lisa's history. Fantastic theories and conspiracies are often entertained by authors of fiction.

In 1952, science fiction/fantasy author Ray Bradbury published a short story titled "The Smile", which dealt with the reaction of people in a dystopic future to the Mona Lisa. The story places the painting on canvas, while the real painting is on poplar wood.

Bob Shaw's 1976 humorous short story "The Giaconda Caper", published in his collection "Cosmic Kaleidoscope", suggests that the painting is part of a sequence which together forms a brief animation, and that da Vinci even created a machine to view them.

The 1979 serial City of Death in the science fiction television series Doctor Who revolves around da Vinci making copies of the Mona Lisa. The story suggests that the painting now in the Louvre is painted on top of the message "This is a fake" written in modern felt tip pen.

A 1979 episode of the classic anime Lupin III entitled "Mona Lisa Smiles Twice" finds Lupin and his gang attempting to steal the Mona Lisa. After many attempts gone wrong, he finally succeeds at the end of the episode, only to discover a curator at the Louvre, to protect the original, began painting perfect replicas for tours and display. However, the curator has painted so many that even he does not know which is the original Mona Lisa from all of the duplicates.

A 1984 episode of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" features Holmes' nemesis, Professor Moriarty, stealing the Mona Lisa and making copies of it to sell as originals. In the show, the thief rolls the Mona Lisa up into a tube, which should not be possible if the painting is on poplar.

Good Omens, a 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, features a character called Anthony Crowley who owns the original cartoon of the Mona Lisa and displays it as the only piece of art in his London flat. Crowley is a demon who has been on Earth since the Fall of Man. He met da Vinci in 16th Century Italy and obtained the cartoon whilst drinking with the polymath. Leonardo and Crowley agree that the cartoon is superior to the finished version ("I got the bloody smile all right in the roughs").

In the 1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys", an alien who is an obsessive collector owns the Mona Lisa. He also acquires the android Data, who tries to imitate the painting's smile.

Eduard Gufeld, the late Ukrainian-American chess grandmaster, published a book in 1994 entitled My Life in Chess: The Search for La Gioconda. In 2001, a revised edition entitled Chess: The Search for the Mona Lisa was released. In the book, Gufeld discussed his quest to play the perfect chess masterpiece. He felt that he had realized this dream in his famous 1973 game against Bagirov.

An episode of the Disney cartoon Doug revolves around the making of a musical play about the painting coming to life and Leonardo having to find her.

The 1962 Looney Tunes cartoon "Louvre Come Back To Me!", starring Pepe Le Pew, features the Mona Lisa in the finale; as Le Pew's visible odor reaches the painting, it comes to life and says, "I can tell you chaps one thing: it's not always easy to hold this smile." This cartoon was also edited into the compilation feature Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island.

The February 8, 1999 edition of The New Yorker ran for its cover Dean Rohrer's Monica Lisa, an amalgamation of the Mona Lisa and Monica Lewinsky.

In Kurt Wimmer’s 2002 cult film Equilibrium, the Mona Lisa is found by the tetragrammaton, a group who seek out people who have "feelings". Since emotion is outlawed in the future in this film, those who refuse to take drugs that inhibit the ability to feel are hunted down. Most who refuse to take the drugs are holed up in the outer rim of the city and collect and protect art (and other emotion-generating media such as recordings of music) with their lives seeing it as something precious. The Mona Lisa is found and burned by flamethrowers as cleric John Preston finds the painting along with other artifacts securely hidden in a basement.

The painting features significantly in The Da Vinci Code, a popular novel written by Dan Brown in 2003 and a film due to be released on May 19, 2006 (directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen and Alfred Molina). Brown's hero, Harvard professor Robert Langdon, claims that the painting expresses Leonardo's belief in the "sacred feminine" and that the title is a coded reference to the Egyptian gods Amon and Isis, "Mona" being an anagram of the former and "Lisa" being a contraction of l'Isa, meaning Isis. This hidden reference is supposed to signify Leonardo's secret opposition to orthodox Christianity and belief in the ideal union of masculine and feminine principles, as does the sitter's androgynous features. In this context he also refers to the self-portrait theory.

In the 2003 comedy Looney Tunes: Back In Action, stuntman DJ Drake (Brendan Fraser) looks through an embedded "X-ray" lens in a playing card — a queen of diamonds with Mona Lisa as Queen — to examine the original Mona Lisa at the Louvre, discovering a hidden map under the painting.

The titles of two episodes of The Simpsons were homophones of the painting's title (Moaning Lisa and Moe'N'a Lisa, respectively).

One of the things that the dwarves in Time Bandits steal is the Mona Lisa.

In the video game Animal Crossing, the Famous Painting depicts the Mona Lisa.

In the video game Max Payne there are twin characters named 'Mona' and 'Lisa'. 'Lisa' dies in the first game and 'Mona' is a main character in the sequel Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.

In "Looney tunes: Back in Action" the video game, There exists a level called the louvre and close inspection of the surroundings can reveal the Mona Lisa painting.

The time-travel card game Chrononauts features cards representing three versions of the Mona Lisa: The Real Thing, an Excellent Forgery, and an Obvious Forgery (which, in later versions of the game, sports a handlebar mustache). 


Thanks to