The readers of the best selling Da Vinci Code want to know more about Leonardo da Vinci. Time to learn about this true Renaissance man.
Many liberal-minded researchers have credited Leonardo da Vinci with everything. From creating the Shroud of Turin to being a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion. In fact, his figure is full of mystery. Regardless of your opinion on Dan Brown’s novel, or your belief in the conspiracies described in it, there is always more to reveal about Leonardo.
Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa’s Smile
Before the arrival of the Da Vinci Code, the curious smile of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa to stirred the souls of art historians. Although Giorgio Vasari, the father of Art History, gave an explanation for the smile, people never stopped wanting to know more.
Vasari claimed that, while Leonardo was painting the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, he would entertain Mona Lisa by hiring “singers, musicians or jesters.” These figures “kept her full of merriment and chase away the melancholy that painters usually give to portraits”.
However, her smile might be hiding more than just a moment in time. Especially considering that La Gioconda looks strikingly similar to other works by Leonardo.
Resemblances in the works of Leonardo da Vinci
For example the Virgin and Child with St. Anne, and John the Baptist. Theories abound as to why the females in Leonardo’s paintings look so similar. Doctor Lillian Schwartz suggested that the Mona Lisa is a self-portrait. Sigmund Freud also attempted to explain the smile as a manifestation of Leonardo’s Oedipus Complex. This view has spawned a theory that Mona Lisa represents Leonardo’s birth mother.
If theories about Leonardo’s homosexuality are correct, then the Mona Lisa could have been an homage to his long-time friend and lover. However this is only conjecture. And it happens with most od Leonardo’s work.
Is there a Da Vinci Code?
If you mean like in the premise of Dan Brown’s book, then no, there is no Da Vinci Code.
Leonardo may or may not have been involved in the occult, but he was not a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion. The original theory, later discovered to be fake, was brought to light by the bestselling book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail. By combining this “theory” with other controversial beliefs about Leonardo, Dan Brown created a recipe for success.
Leonardo’s Last Supper is held as the ultimate proof codes hiding in his work. The person sitting at the place of honor, at the right hand of Jesus, looks like a woman. Dan Brown and others interpret her as Mary Magdalene. However, from Medieval paintings to gothic sculpture, Europe is filled with examples of a feminine Saint John.
However it would be foolish to think that Leonardo was much of a mundane and straightforward individual, as there are some very puzzling aspects in his works that may allude to some sort of code. One of these mysteries is known as the “John Gesture” and is best shown in his androgynous John the Baptist, considered Leonardo’s last painting. What this gesture means has been debated for centuries. But it may actually shed light on Leonardo’s religious views. Perhaps he was the follower of a heretic faith.
Indeed, people look for hidden signs and codes in Leonardo’s work. Perhaps Dan Brown was right.
By Justin Demetri