Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance masterpiece portrait, the Mona Lisa, has long been a source of mystery and speculation. Now, according to Ross Kilpatrick, professor emeritus of Classics at Queen’s University, there might be some literary references hidden in da Vinci’s brushstrokes.
Kilpatrick—who’s ideas about the Mona Lisa were recently published in MEDICEA—cites the Renaissance technique of ‘invention,’ whereby artists used a passage of literature as inspiration to be incorporated into their art. In the case of the Mona Lisa, Kilpatrick believes the literary allusion is to Horace’s Ode 1. 22 and some of Petrarch’s sonnets. Using these literary works, Kilpatrick asserts, explains the odd juxtaposition of the smiling woman with the desolate, barren background in the portrait: “The composition of the Mona Lisa is striking. Why does Leonardo have an attractive woman sitting on a balcony, while in . . . → Read More: What Else Could Mona Lisa Possibly Be Hiding in Her Smile?