Leonardo's Val di Chiana Map in the Mona Lisa

Leonardo's Val di Chiana Map in the Mona Lisa

Is an article published in Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization by University of Toronto Press

Written by: Donato Pezzutto

LINK to Article


"Leonardo arranged the landscape in the Mona Lisa to hold two disjoined halves of one image. That image can be reassembled by juxtaposing two copies of the painting side by side. The newly reconstituted landscape corresponds to an actual place, as depicted in Leonardo's Val di Chianamap. In this article, the identity of the sitter and opinions relevant to the background landscape are considered, Leonardo's developments in the depiction of depth outlined, and his technique of topographic perspective introduced. Analysis of these observations, along with Leonardo's investigations in perception, perspective, monocular and binocular vision, and cartography, lead to understanding of his technique. Speculation as to Leonardo's motivation include a pun on La Gioconda and his attempt at stereoscopy."

LINK to News Story Mona Lisa’s mystique may be all in background
LINK to News Story Exclusive - The Mona Lisa's mystery solved?


This article is about the background of the Mona Lisa and where it could have been based on. The bridge, the landscape etc. It also gets into stereoscopy and other technical information about the painting. 

"The painting has deliberately been created in such a way that the view of the balcony and the landscape on one edge continues on the other (Bair, 2007, 173–77)."

I was referenced in this article because a couple years ago while working with the Mona Lisa I noticed that her edges aligned when the painting was rolled up. 

It's been a strange mystery why the master of perspective had an "error" in perspective in the background of the Mona Lisa. It inexplicably rises. It should be like this:

I had actually unknowingly made an image that showed the edges aligning even earlier when I first started on my Leonardo research. In the image below I was playing around with the Mona Lisa for artistic effect and didn't notice until way later and under very different circumstances that the edges actually aligned. Even though I had aligned the opposite edges already. I didn't realize it until I rolled the image up.

The background's perspective is "off" and the edges align when they are met - but why would he do this? It would have had to specifically designed to do so, but for what purpose? I will explain in a future post but there is more about the background, the pillars that may or may not have been there, and the Mona Lisa in general on my site HERE.

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