Lisa Was Really Sick

 Leonardo Painting the Mona Lisa Aimee Brune Pages 1845 Engraved by Charles Lemoine from the oil original. 1845. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

Leonardo Painting the Mona Lisa Aimee Brune Pages 1845 Engraved by Charles Lemoine from the oil original. 1845. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

 LEONARDO DA VINCI (Vinci, 1452 - Amboise, 1519) - Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, known as the Mona Lisa (the Joconde in French), c. 1503–06)

LEONARDO DA VINCI (Vinci, 1452 – Amboise, 1519) – Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, known as the Mona Lisa (the Joconde in French), c. 1503–06) Detail.

“Thin, gradually widening nose with nervous, quivering wings and pale pink nostrils… Great details for an understanding of Mona Lisa: it might as well she is hard of hearing, otherwise her ears would not have been covered by flowing hair — she would have cherished her auditory impressions more.

Her gaze is uncertain, but she has a subtle sense of smell, which is often coupled with a rather weak perception of a other sensory impressions. She is sensually attuned to smells but hardly sensitive to the suffering of living beings. To be compassionate, we must have good eyesight and hearing.”

“Something painfully degenerate emanates from this person, and I feel that this woman has a hidden ills. Her famous smile is a fixed grin, nasty, annoying, giving Mona Lisa’s entire face that is lacking of beauty, a hint of peculiar ugliness, unprecedented in art, either before or after Leonardo… 

The gloomy genius hovers over this portrait. Despite the bright colors of spring landscape, Mona Lisa looks as though she just emerged from a dark dungeon.” (Russian art critic Akim Volynsky  (1861 –1926))

Well, how’s that opinion fares against the most common one: Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is sheer perfection and her most famous feature, her lingering smile, is nothing less than a beautiful enigma!?

smileIt isn’t easy to be a heroine of, perhaps, the most famous works of art of all time.

These days Mona Lisa is being regularly given medical diagnoses.
In 2005, the paint­ing was ana­lyzed at the Uni­ver­sity of Ams­ter­dam using “emo­tion recog­ni­tion soft­ware”. Based on com­par­ing her fea­tures (pri­mar­ily her eyes and lips) to a ‘neu­tral’ expres­sion, it was concluded that the subject of the Mona Lisa is 83% happy, 9% dis­gusted, 6% fear­ful, and 2% angry.

Lately, numerous medical doctors — physicians, dentists, surgeons, ophthalmologists — Mrs. del Giocondo was a very sick lady. The list of her ailments includes (!) strabismus, hemiatrophy, discrepancy, congenital idiocy, diseases of the spine, excess of cholesterol in the blood, alopecia, toothlessness.Mona_Lisa Fingers

Take a closer look at Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo’s fingers. In the opinion of Danish physician Finn Becker Christensen, “discrepancy” in Mona Lisa’s fingers is one of the signs of congenital idiocy. Another evidence of this condition is her high convex forehead. Mona Lisa’s famous smile is asymetrical, “left-sided” — yet another sign of disturbed emotional state.Eyes

English ophthalmologist Clive Novis suggests that Mona Lisa’s unfocused gaze is a clear symptom of strabismussquint,  a disorder of vision due to a deviation from normal orientation of one or both eyes so that both cannot be directed at the same object at the same time. Other words, Lisa was cross-eyed.

These and other curious medical discoveries were collected for the article Беззубое совершенство (Toothless Perfection) in Вокруг Света (Around The Word) magazine. Half-way through retelling the article in English I stumbled across a blog post where someone  have already done it. To learn more about poor Lisa’s earthly suffering, see  Mona Lisa medical diagnosis.
Clearly, to the  doctors there are no healthy patients, only underdiagnosed. Soon it will be possible to test their hypothesis. Perhaps, soon enough it’ll be possible to prove or disprove some or all of the diagnoses: Mona Lisa search: Test results on ‘muse’ Lisa Gherardini bones to be announced.

Painter works on copying Leonardo's masterpiece, surrounded by finished copies.

Painter works on copying Leonardo’s masterpiece, surrounded by finished copies.

For a close-up view of the Mona Lisa, visit the Musée du Lou­vre web­site where you can zoom in for more detail than you could even see in per­son, and also com­pare the results of sci­en­tific tests done with infrared, x-radiography, and UVF scans.

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