In 1506 Leonardo da Vinci finished two paintings of Mona Lisa. The most famous one is in the Louvre museum in Paris, France, and the other one is in the Prado museum in Madrid, Spain. They were painted side by side, and because Leonardo was such a careful painter, reproductions of them can now be viewed life-size, side by side, to form a 3D stereoscopic image. This amazing effect can now be seen at Dudley’s Bookstore in Bend, Oregon.
The Prado’s Mona Lisa was recently restored and needed little adjustment for this display, but the Louvre Mona Lisa was covered with multitudes of cracks from original paint shrinkage, and from layers of protective varnish which also shrank and cracked. To make things worse the cracks filled with dirt, some pieces of paint fell off, also splashes and dribbles of unknown substances streaked across the painting, and the paint changed color.
I made a valiant effort to correct all of these 513 years of accumulated problems, while inserting as little personal influence into the process as possible. That was a real challenge because there are many times when it is impossible to know what was behind the obscuring stuff. I hope that if Leonardo were to see these reproductions he would not be too displeased.
In addition to the 3D effect, when viewing the two paintings side by side, there is a second well-known quality of the Paris Mona Lisa. It has been remarked many times that her eyes seem to follow you. There is some of that effect when viewing the painting and moving your whole body slightly side to side.
But I discovered a much more vivid effect can be created by holding your finger about one-third of the way between your eye and the portrait and slightly to your right side of her face. Look into one of her eyes for about five seconds, and then move your finger slowly over to your left and back toward where you began, taking about five seconds with each cycle of this movement. Be warned, it will give you the creeps! It really looks like her eyes follow your finger. Okay, it’s an optical illusion . . . but they move.
Mona Lisa comes to life and will watch you move.