The reason for Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile was because she had just given birth to a child, according to a team of researchers comprising of Canadian and French scientists.
Video: Scientists Probe Mona Lisa’s Secrets
The scientists say that the smile has no mystery apart from being a weary smile of joy of a mother with a newborn. The team used a new three-dimensional high-resolution scan to see below the layers of yellow varnish that had accumulated over the years to protect the painting. The researchers found out that Mona Lisa was wearing a thin gauzy layer over her dress. They added that during that period of history this type of attire was worn by pregnant women or had just given birth to a child.
Bruno Mottin, one of the researchers at French Museums’ Center for Research and Restoration, said, “This type of gauzy covering was typically worn in 16th-century Italy by pregnant women or new mothers. We can now affirm that Leonardo’s painting was commissioned to celebrate the birth of the second child of La Gioconda. This also helps us date the painting with greater precision to 1503”. Many art scholars believe that the lady in the painting is one Lisa del Giocondo, the third wife of a rich Florentine merchant called Francesco di Bartolomeo de Zanobi del Giocondo. They also suggested that Da Vinci was hired to do the painting to commemorate the pregnancy or the birth of their second child in December 1502.
Mottin added that Da Vinci made many changes to the final painting. For example, to start with, Da Vinci painted Mona Lisa gripping her chair as if she were about to get up. However in the final version, he changed it showing one hand placed relaxedly over the other. The scan, commissioned by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), also showed that Da Vinci had originally planned to paint his Mona Lisa with her hair in a cap and a few escaping curls.
Mottin, along with many art scholars, was surprised with the final image, where the Mona Lisa’s hair hangs loosely about her shoulders, as during that time only those who were young or those of ill repute wore their hair that way.