Another Mona Lisa theory reported this weekend, and similarly far out, is the news that scientists have deduced it may even have been intended to be a 3D stereoscopic image. Live Science reports new proof that the Mona Lisa in Paris and the recently 'discovered' copy in the Prado (which is now being heavily marketed as 'The Prado Mona Lisa') were painted at exactly the time in Leonardo's studio:
Turns out, the real "Mona Lisa," or "La Gioconda," and the Prado cousin were painted from slightly different perspectives. Carbon and Vera Hesslinger of Germany's University of Mainz figured out this perspective shift by looking at so-called trajectories, or the paths from a distinctive point on the source, such as the tip of Mona Lisa's nose, to a target, or the observer's (or painter's) eyes. The scientists also asked people to estimate the perspective of the "Mona Lisa" sitter, something Carbon called a psychological assessment of the perspective.
"This is particularly clear if you observe the chair on which La Gioconda sits: In the Prado version, you can still see the end of the end corner of the chair at the background of the painting, which you cannot see in the Louvre version, because the painter of the Prado version looked at the' Mona Lisa' more from the left than the painter of the Louvre version," Carbon said.
But as regular readers will know, the theory that the 'Prado Mona Lisa' is an exact studio contemporary of the Mona Lisa is already deeply suspect. And sadly this latest theory is what happens when we let scientists loose on art history. Their limited understanding of visual culture means they come up with whacky theories like this. But the press tends to believe them, because scientists must be right, right?