There are moments when I must reread a news article because it seems far-fetched. An article that appeared in the January 24, 2010 issues of Timesonline is another one of those moments.
Apparently, a team of scientists from Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage wants to exhume the remains of Leonardo da Vinci. Why? They want to examine his face to see if the Mona Lisa is a disguised self-portrait. According to this article, some scholars have suggested that Leonardo’s presumed homosexuality and love of riddles led him to paint himself as a woman. Evidently, an American “expert” named Lillian Schwartz used computer programs to establish similarities between Leonardo’s self-portrait and the features on the Mona Lisa. They also want to determine if Leonardo suffered from lead poisoning, a common affliction of artists back then. Leonardo died in 1519 at the age of 67. This means that, if he’s exhumed, they’ll have to use his skull to reconstruct his face. I guess forensic artists are good at that these days. If this article is correct, exhumation could take place this summer.
This raises all kinds of questions in my mind:
1. It’s frequently said that artists interpret some of their own characteristics in every portrait of others that they paint. Isn’t it possible that Leonardo’s portraits were personal interpretations that may have included some of his own features just by chance?
2. What if Leonardo did intentionally paint himself as Mona Lisa? Does this prove the motivations they're assigning him?
3. Although this is an interesting question for science, should it be investigated? I don’t really have an opinion, but wonder how this would benefit humanity or the planet. In other words, does it really matter?
4. What are the implications for the art world? Are there any?
All this reminds me of The DaVinci Code. What other artist has fueled so much speculation??