Special Sub-Topic: Mona Lisa and Her Mysteries
|Popular tradition favours the idea that the "Mona Lisa" was painted in which Italian city? |
Florence. Michael White, the biographer of Leonardo, believes that the "Mona Lisa" was begun during the artist's second period of residence in Milan in 1508-13, but possibly still not finished until he moved to Rome later. Most encyclopaedias and dictionaries of art, however - not to mention wikipedia - state categorically that it was painted in Florence.
|How is the lady in the picture posing?|
sitting in an armchair by a window. According to my venerable Phaidon picture-book "Italian Renaissance Painting" by Keith Roberts, the painting was once wider but has at some point been cut at the sides, so that the sides of the window-frame are no longer visible.
|How did the "Mona Lisa" first arrive in France?|
Leonardo carried it there himself. Apparently the artist carried this painting with him every time he moved home, which seems to have been quite often. There is a widely-believed story that Salai, a close companion of Leonardo's, took it back to Italy after the artist's death, but that leaves a mystery as to how, in that case, it found its way back to France later, to hang in the Louvre as it does today.
|By what name is the "Mona Lisa" usually known in Italy?|
La Gioconda. The name is as beautiful as the painting - and equally beautiful in French: "La Joconde".
|Which Italian writer of the mid-sixteenth century is responsible for the belief that the "Mona Lisa" was the third wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a rich Florentine merchant?|
Giorgio Vasari. Painter, architect and biographer, Vasari - like many other good writers - was not averse to making things up for himself when hard evidence was lacking, so nobody can be sure if his identification of Leonardo's sitter is the true one. He is the sole source for this, and similarly it seems to be he who is behind the belief that the painting was done in Florence rather than in Milan.
|Which French writer, who spent thirty years of his life in prison, described the "Mona Lisa" painting as "the very essence of femininity"?|
the Marquis de Sade. He had very good taste - in some respects, at least.
|What did Oscar Wilde have to say about the "Mona Lisa"?|
The picture reveals to us a secret of which, in truth, it knows nothing. Sometimes the most boring answer is the correct one! When Oscar tries to be serious he usually falls flat on his face, in my opinion.
|What did Sigmund Freud, rejecting the identity of the Florentine lady, suggest about the "Mona Lisa" painting?|
It is an idealised portrait of Leonardo's dead mother. This is, at least, more convincing than the "self-portrait" theory, which has been advanced in all seriousness by some people.
|Who famously, in the interests of modern art, drew a moustache and goatee beard onto the image of the "Mona Lisa"?|
Marcel Duchamp. He also wrote a sexually explicit comment underneath, which cannot be repeated in a family quiz - either in French or English.
|Which one of the following *never* used the Mona Lisa image in their creative work?|
Alfons Mucha. The brilliant Mucha's graceful and seductive "art nouveau" female figures are not directly influenced by Leonardo. But the famous features of "la Gioconda" have appeared on Warhol's silk-screen images, on the iconic Sergeant Pepper album, and in an instalment of "Monty Python's Flying Circus".
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