the “salai” copy: hold your hand original

Its the Mona Lisa industry. Eventually it will get traced all the way to Neil Armstrong on the moon and the 9-11 attacks. Maybe its the collective occult obsession and the “inside job” is to be found within the sacred texts of Jewish mysticism or some found parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls or in the wastebasket beside an Brown’s paper mulcher. The number “72” was just found under the arched bridge in the backdrop of  da Vinci’s  Mona Lisa painting. Which is four by eighteen, “chai” in Hebrew lore. And since the Jews received the Torah in year 2448 the numbers add up to eighteen. Is so logical! Toss in the Golden Mean, the divine ratio, and blend in the five pointed star of Vitruvian Man and someone is going to die and the guy gets the girl. But back then, a scientific approach to the study of the Bible and its related mysticism was not uncommon.

Science and faith were seen as complementary to each other, and prediction, prophecy based on holy texts was considered legitimate study. Unlike Newton, its not evident that Da Vinci was familiar with the Talmud. Da Vinci was no different than Isaac Newton. In fact, both, like the rabbinical cabalists such as Rashi and Maimonides, believed that  scripture, the Torah,  provided a “code” to the natural world. You just had to be lucky enough to find it. Well, there are 304,805 letters in the Torah so we have the 7 and 13 there….

(see link at end)…A copy of the Mona Lisa has been discovered in the Prado which was painted in Leonardo’s studio—created side by side with the original that now hangs in the Louvre. This sensational find will transform our understanding of the world’s most famous picture.

Conservators at the Prado in Madrid recently made an astonishing discovery, hidden beneath black overpaint. What was assumed to be a replica of the Mona Lisa made after Leonardo’s death had actually been painted by one of his key pupils, working alongside the master. The picture is more than just a studio copy—it changed as Leonardo developed his original composition.

—Two weeks after it went on show to the public at the Prado, the museum’s conservation team believe they are closing in on a conclusion about the painting’s authorship.
The most likely candidate is Gian Giacomo Caprotti, the apprentice known as “Salaì” – which translates as “Little Devil” – who went to work in Leonardo’s workshop when he was ten years old.
Many historians believe, though it is not proven, that Salaì was Leonardo’s lover. He is presumed to be the youthful model for Leonardo’s paintings ‘St. John the Baptist’ and ‘Bacchus’, as well as numerous drawings.
The Renaissance art historian Giorgio Vasari describes Salaì in his ‘Lives of the Artists’ as “a graceful and beautiful youth with curly hair, in which Leonardo greatly delighted”.—Read More:

..The final traces of overpaint are now being removed by Prado conservators, revealing the fine details of the delicate Tuscan landscape, which mirrors the background of Leonardo’s masterpiece. Darkened varnish is also being painstakingly stripped away from the face of the Mona Lisa, giving a much more vivid impression of her enticing eyes and enigmatic smile.

In the Louvre’s original, which will not be cleaned in the foreseeable future, Lisa’s face is obscured by old, cracked varnish, making her appear almost middle aged. In the Prado copy we see her as she would have looked at the time—as a radiant young woman in her early 20s.

Leonardo da Vinci, and particularly his masterpiece the Mona Lisa, attracts endless sensationalist theories. However, the discovery of the contemporary copy has been accepted by the two key authorities, the Prado and the Louvre.

Until recently, curators at the Prado had no idea of the significance of their copy of the Mona Lisa. There are dozens of surviving replicas from the 16th and 17th centuries. The Madrid version was believed by some specialist to have been painted fairly early, but the absence of the landscape background meant that it aroused little interest (there is no substantive entry on it in the Prado’s collection catalogues).

Although the portrait is finely painted, the dull, black background had a deadening visual effect on the image of the young woman. The sitter is generally believed to

esent Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo.

The Prado’s painting was until recently assumed to be on oak (rarely used in Italy at the time) and therefore a work by a northern European artist. José Ruiz Manero, the author of a study of Italian art in Spanish collections, concluded that the picture was Flemish….

—But the X-ray revealed an almost identical to da Vinci’s version underneath! So the cleaning and restoration experts got to work at this fabulous opportunity and started to revive the old painting.
They discovered that, indeed, there was a bright clean version of the Mona Lisa underneath all the mess. It’s exciting art news–trust, son. Part of the excitement is that da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is too fragile to risk cleaning properly and too famous. This, while excellent, is still just a copy so there is less inherent risk. Scholars at the scene are pumped because the painting is a stunning example–it could have been painted on an easel immediately adjacent to da Vinci himself! Imagine! Also, Mona in the copy has eyebrows—Read More:

Last year, the panel was examined and found to be walnut, which was used in Italy (as is poplar, used for the original of the Mona Lisa). In size, it is close to that of the original: the Louvre’s painting is 77cm x 53cm and the Prado’s copy 76cm x 57cm.

In a paper presented two weeks ago at a technical conference at London’s National Gallery, coinciding with its exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” (until 5 February), conservators revealed that they had discovered that the black background was a later addition. This conference was not covered in the media .

A striking photograph was presented at the conference, showing the picture’s condition after 90% of the black overpaint had been removed, leaving just a small section in the upper right. Visually, the landscape transforms the work, bringing the picture to life.

There was an even greater surprise: infrared reflectography images of the Prado replica were compared with those obtained in 2004 from the original of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. This process enables conservators to peer beneath the surface of the paint, to see underdrawing and changes which evolved in the composition.

The underdrawing of the Madrid replica was similar to that of the Mona Lisa before it was finished. This suggests that the original and the copy were begun at the same time and painted next to each other, as the work evolved.

…The Prado’s technical specialist Ana González Mozo describes the Madrid replica as “a high quality work”, and in the paper she presented at the London conference, she provided evidence that the picture was done in Leonardo’s studio. The precise date of the original is uncertain, although the Louvre states it was between 1503 and 1506.

Bruno Mottin, the head conservator at the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, believes that the most likely painter of the Prado copy was one of Leonardo’s two favourite pupils.

Mottin proposes that it was either Andrea Salai, who originally joined Leonardo’s studio in 1490 and probably became his lover, or Francesco Melzi, who joined around 1506. If the Prado replica is eventually attributed to Melzi, it suggests a late date for the original.

… The production of a second version, painted alongside the original, is intriguing. It adds credence to Martin Kemp’s theory that Leonardo may also have had a hand in both versions of The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, 1501-07, one owned by the Duke of Buccleuch and the other by a New York private owner (formerly in the Lansdowne collection).

But what is most exciting about the Prado replica is what it reveals about Leonardo’s original. In the Madrid copy there are areas that are better preserved than in the Louvre painting. The replica gives us more detail of the spindles of the chair, the frill on the edge of the fabric on Lisa’s chest and the semi-transparent veil around her left shoulder, arm and elbow….

…Falomir suspects the black overpaint was probably added in the mid-18th century. The reason for this addition is obscure, since the background landscape remained in good condition and Leonardo’s original painting was already very highly regarded. The overpaint may have been added to integrate the copy into an interior with other portraits set against dark backgrounds.

During the past few months, this black covering has been painstakingly stripped away at the Madrid conservation studio, with the final area of dark overpaint due to be removed in the next few days. Later varnish has also been taken away from the rest of the picture, most importantly the face.

…There it will be seen in the same galleries as the original, giving specialists and visitors the first chance to compare the two works. After 500 years, the two versions of the Mona Lisa from Leonardo’s studio will be reunited again.Read More:


(see link at end)…Silvano Vincetti claims he has found hiden letters and numbers within the Mona Lisa. The right eye has an “L” and a “V”, which some experts suggest might stand for Leonardo Vinci. Interestingly enough, the letter L is a square and the letter V could be emblematic of the Compass.

In the left, the letters B, S or CE were found. Though it is not known whose initials or letters those letters would stand for, it does contradict the common belief that Mona Lisa was Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant. The number “72” is found under the arched bridge in the backdrop of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting.

Leonardo’s interest in religion and mysticism is no secret and it is quite possible that these hidden numbers and letters actually represent more than just the initials of the artist and model as most recent media reports allude to. The number “72,” is found in the Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, and in Christianity. Even when considered separately, “7” is full of symbolic associations in both Judaism and Christianity, for example to the creation of the world and the number of God, and the number “2” may be a reference to the duality of male and female.Read More:

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