01 Sep Mona Lisa’s Uncatchable Smile Solved
According to a study cited in artnet news, one of the most widespread mysteries in the world of art history finally has it’s conclusion. British scientists claim to have found the answer to this age old secret smile by the close examination and study of another portrait by Leonardo da Vinci titled La Bella Principessa.
If you are unfamiliar with the mystery surrounding Mona Lisa‘s smile, it is centered around the phenomenon that depending on the angle, orientation, or distance you are viewing the painting, the expression on Mona Lisa’s face can be seen as a either a smile or a frown. This illusive smile has been named “the uncatchable smile” and academics out of Sheffield Hallam University believe that the answer lies in the above mentioned earlier work of Da Vinci.
When viewing La Bella Principessa, a similar phenomenon occurs. The smile only appears at certain angles. The slant of the figure’s mouth changes with viewing distance and when applying a blur effect to a digital rendition of the piece. Through psychological experiments, it is clear that that perceived slant is what causes the “level of contentment” to fluctuate.
The answer to the riddle appears to be the an optical illusion created by the use of sfmato (an Italian word that translates to soft or pale) technique, which is the use of color and shading. This technique creates a gaze-dependent effect. It is unclear whether that effect was intended, but knowing the mastery of Leonardo’s technique and the same phenomenon found in the famed Mona Lisa, it is pretty clear that it was his intent. This also goes hand in hand with his known maxim regarding portraits which stated that they should reflect a certain amount of “inner turmoil of the mind.”
Perhaps if Mona Lisa had the services of our staff at Prescott Dentistry, she could have saved us a few hundred years of suspense and just smiled with her teeth! Contact us today if you want to avoid all the mystery and have the confidence to smile wide!
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (8/31/2015) Joaquín Martínez (Flickr