Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mona Lisa’s Smile Hides Da Vinci’s Technique


Hidden behind the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic Smile are dozens and dozens of layers of ultra-thin glaze, according to French researchers who examined the masterpiece through non-invasive x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. The investigation revealed that up to 40 layers of transparent glaze, possibly smeared on with his fingers, produce the unique effect behind the mysterious smile. He used layers that were 1-2 micrometers thick, about 50 times thinner than a human hair. And since the layers were uneven, it created an illusion of a smoky effect around her mouth. This made it look more realistic and original because it makes it look like light and shade are blended without borders, creating a smoky effect. This effect is called, “Sfumato”, from the Latin base fumato meaning, “Smoke or fume.” The technique involved letting the layers dry for long periods of time, which could last from weeks to months. Attempts to solve the enigma around her smile, as proclaimed by 16th century artists, included theories from she was a noblewoman who was happily pregnant, suffering from asthma, had facial paralysis, or that the smile was a result of compulsive gnashing of teeth.


2 comments:

Zachary said...

The secret of the Mona Lisa has long been debated. The discovery of how the smile was created may lead to new art techniques, or simply the common knowledge of why the picture looks so good. However, another question to answer is why people are so fascinated by the Mona Lisa. To me, it is just a painting.

melanie_mabry said...

Personally, I believe there will always be a mystery in the smile of Mona Lisa. However, it is extremely interesting to learn of the techniques Da Vinchi may have used when creating this masterpiece. It's crazy to think that the mysterious smile was created out of dozens upon dozens of ultra thin microscopic layers of glaze.