Mona Lisa Diagnosed

All my life I’d heard about the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic portrait of a young woman of Florence. The portrait is currently hanging in its own room in the Louvre in Paris.

When I saw it, however, it was hanging with other paintings of its era. I haven’t the slightest idea if they’ve re-framed the Mona Lisa, but when I saw it the portrait was under this ugly green glass. You weren’t allowed to take any photos (in the era before cell phones) due to fears the flash attachments would damage the painting.

Let’s just say that I was totally unimpressed. It was, in a word, ugly.

Da Vinci was renown for his skill as an anatomist. He studied the human body intensely, including its skeletal and muscular components. His enormous talent is evident in his drawings, sculptures, and paintings. (Isn’t it amazing that both Da Vinci and Michelangelo were so skilled in all three? Michelangelo’s Pieta is one of the most awe-inspiring pieces of art I’ve ever seen.)

Because Da Vinci was so skilled in portraying the human body a doctor has decided that the portrait reveals that Mona Lisa was ill. I guess the enigmatic smile is supposed to be a pained one. The doctor stated: “That, to me is a classic picture of clinical hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland.”

Frankly, I have hypothyroidism, but I don’t go around smiling like Mona Lisa. Or at least I hope I don’t.

It is a fascinating article, however.

Here’s the whole article and his diagnosis:

6 thoughts on “Mona Lisa Diagnosed”

  1. We saw the Mona Lisa, sort of in 1986. We were there the same day some Italian students were there. It was like you said it was in a case and honestly I had a hard time seeing it well plus it was behind ropes and you couldn’t get close to it.

  2. The doctor can diagnose her just by a photo? That doesn’t fly by me. There’s too much a doctor doesn’t know about how much the colors/pigments of the paint have changed, her diet, whether or not her hair was freshly washed, whether or not she was pregnant (could explain puffiness), whether or not she has jaundice, if she was wearing painful shoes, if she shaved her eyebrows, etc… People see what they want to see. He wanted to see a medical problem and he found one. Another doctor will be able to explain away some of his deductions.

    That’s the thing about ART–it can be interpreted so many different ways. If you look at a lot of paintings from days of yore, many–perhaps even most?–times the subjects were not smiling.

  3. I’ve seen La Pieta as well and to me it was the most beautiful piece of sculpture I’ve ever seen. The Mona Lisa, haven’t seen it in the Louvre, but I have never liked the pictures I’ve seen of it and so much is always made of it. Then, of course, there’s the Pillar of Fire in a museum in Ottawa, a stroke of red paint down a white background, which cost millions. Eye of the beholder or what.

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