Vinci in Drag'
"Hey Mr Langford," a muscle-bound man
said. 'Is it true that the Mona Lisa is a picture of Da Vinci in
drag" I heard that was true."
"It's quite possible," Langdon said. "Da Vinci was
a prankster, and computerized analysis of the Mona Lisa and da Vinci's
self-portraits confirm some startling points of congruency in their
faces. Whatever Da Vinci was up to," Langdon said, "his
Mona Lisa is neither male nor female. It carries a subtle message
in androgyny. It is a fusing of both."
(Chapter Twenty-six, p. 120)
as this idea may be, it falls down because there actually are no
known 'self-portraits' of Leonardo. There is one drawing of the
head of an old man which is often said to be a self-portrait, and
is regularly reproduced as such, but it is not known if this is
the case. Any 'points of congruency' between one of these drawings
and the Mona Lisa probably say more about the way the artist drew
faces than any 'subtle message in androgyny'.
While it is
not known for certain who the model for the Mona Lisa was, it is
most likely that it was Lisa, the wife of a silk merchant named
Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo - which is what Leonardo's
biographer Vasari tells us. Francesco del Giocondo was a rich Florentine
silk merchant who was a friend and business associate of Leonardo's
father, who may have helped his son get this artistic commission.
This is why Italians call the painting 'La Gioconda' to this day
while the French call it 'La Joconde'. Whoever she was, the idea
that the painting is 'a subtle message in androgyny' is something
else which exists largely in Langdon and Brown's imagination.
'And do you know who the Amon's counterpart was?
The Egyptian goddess of fertility?"
The question was met with several seconds of silence.
"It was Isis," Langdon told them, grabbing a grease pen.
"So we have the male god Amon." He wrote it down. 'And
the female goddess, Isis, whose ancient pictogram was once called
Langdon finished writing and stepped back from the projector.
"Ring any bells?" he asked.
holy crap," someone gasped.
Langdon nodded. "Gentlemen, not only does the face of Mona
Lisa look androgynous, but her name is an anagram of the divine
union of male and female. And that, my friends, is Da Vinci's little
secret, and the reason for Mona Lisa's knowing smile."
(Chapter Twenty-six, p. 120-121)
indeed. As already mentioned, the painting has traditionally been
called 'La Gioconda' by Italians and 'La Joconde' by the French
- references to its likely subject as well as plays on the other
meaning of both traditional names: 'The Playful Woman'. The English
name 'Mona Lisa' was given centuries after Leonardo died, so how
he could have come up with this anagram from beyond the grave, in
a language he did not speak, is hard to fathom.
Brown does his level best to create this idea that Leonardo was
some kind of pagan nature worshipper, this time using a bit of completely
silly linguistic manipulation which simply does not stand up to
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