The Mona Lisa Stars in Her Own Nude Photo-shoot?

Julia McGee-Russell contemplates whether the Mona Lisa did drop her robes for a work recently revealed in France.

Julia McGee-Russell
23rd October 2017

Leaked nude images of celebrities seem to have become as regular as the changing of the seasons, and with the faint cackle of Halloween approaching, a new nude image is making the rounds on the internet. 

Which celebrity is it this time, I hear you cry? Is it Selena Gomez? Kylie Jenner? No, my dear free-the-nipple warriors, it is (of course) Mona Lisa – or at least a nude, slightly Sid-the-sloth looking version of her. After over 150 years languishing in the Renaissance art collection at the Conde Museum at the Palace of Chantilly in France, the nude charcoal sketch known as the Monna Vanna or Joconde Nue is now being researched to determine whether it was primarily painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

It’s only a little gravity-defying boob.

Maybe there’s something saucy behind that demure smile and those folded hands, and the sly side eye Lisa gives us in the ever-famous original is because she knew da Vinci wanted to get under that corset. But to our modern-day standards as part of the Instagram scrolling hordes, it might not be a noteworthy nude. After all, it’s only a little gravity-defying boob – not exactly explicit in a world where there’s fresh nudity in every Game of Thrones episode. Still, with every bit of flesh a woman willingly or unwillingly shows, there are dozens of keyboard warriors grumbling under their troll-bridges, wondering if da Vinci was ‘horny’ if he painted her.

I suppose because the subject of the Mona Lisa is famous with her clothes on, people are horrified to discover that those clothes could actually be prized from her body to reveal a human body under those dark, musty layers. Perhaps people were expecting to find a smoothly featureless Barbie doll, or a pair of apples and some straw stuffing. But there have been several religious and mythological nude paintings accredited to da Vinci, and nude paintings were not uncommon in the era. In fact, there are close to 20 copies of nude paintings and drawings of Mona Lisas in collections around the world.

You could liken the Monna Vanna’s face to a Bratz doll as much as you could the Mona Lisa.

Nonetheless, it has yet to be firmly decided whether the Monna Vanna was painted by da Vinci at all, as although the hands and body are almost identical, as is the size of both paintings, there is hatching near the head of the subject that has been done by a right-handed person. These are some of the reasons why experts must “remain prudent” curator Mathieu Deldicque told AFP news agency. You could liken the Monna Vanna’s face to a Bratz doll as much as you could the Mona Lisa, and the same hand position does not necessarily mean the same hands, especially as only one of the Monna Vanna’s hands was not fully completed. The many small details that complicate the classification of the work, and the fragility of the piece itself, mean that experts believe they will have conclusive evidence by the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death.

This is a mystery that will remain mysterious until 2019 - a two year wait for all you ‘horny’ subplot seekers - but don’t despair, I’m sure there will be plenty of nudes in the meantime.

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AUTHOR: Julia McGee-Russell
Previous Deputy Editor of The Courier, previous Arts Sub-Editor and Head of News at Newcastle Student Radio. Lover of all things arts, culture, and self-care.

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