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.
John Michaelson Period 3