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A few days ago I posted See the Mona Lisa in 3D, and mentioned that I wasn’t happy with the quality of the print images I had available to make my examples in 3D. So, I went online and found some high quality images so a better representation of her in 3D may be made. Unfortunately, when the Paris Mona Lisa is viewed in high quality her five hundred years of aging ruins the spectacular effect needed for a convincing 3D image. There is no help for this problem, except for me to fix the Mona Lisa.

I have now begun that project and have put about twenty hours of time into doing a first-level (digital) cleaning of some parts, but that is less than five percent of what needs to be done. Of course things always take twice as long as expected, so it will be a while before anyone will see the results. It is important to get this right, because with beautiful things the smallest flaw is annoying.

When looking back and forth between the Paris Mona Lisa and the Madrid one the variations become apparent, and because they were obviously painted side by side the variations must be accounted for in some way. The painted backdrop obviously didn’t change while the paintings were being made, and because the face is done in scrupulously identical detail, the differences in the background were created by restorations made after they were completed. The Madrid Mona Lisa was probably manipulated the most historically, at least in the background, and the modern restorations took some necessary liberties to fix things. Of course these needed repairs change things a bit from what Leonardo sent out from his studio, but I accept that as a necessity.

In comparing these two paintings a strange difference in emotional quality appears between the paintings. The difference has become quite clear to me, but it is one of those things that if you don’t see it there is nothing to be done to help you see it. It’s like a subtle joke, either you get it or you don’t. The Paris Mona Lisa has a quality of deep wisdom and penetrating insight and understanding of the viewer. The Madrid Mona Lisa has the feeling of a lovely but naïve girl who is looking at us but not into us. Hopefully as the various layers of injury are removed from the Paris Mona Lisa I will be able to maintain the feeling of wisdom. I remember having this feeling when viewing Van Gogh’s painting of his mother.

 

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