Looking for Mona Lisa

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB
In her book Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered (public library), Dianne Hales looks into the life of the woman in Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting.  She considers Mona Lisa as a woman living in the rich Renaissance city of Florence, as a child and young girl, and as a mother and grandmother.

PD - Art

Hales looks for una donna vera, a true woman, within the painting: 

His very, very thin glazes conceal as well as reveal, creating chiaroscuro, the play of light and dark, that heightens the drama and impact of the work.  According to a computer-generated relief map of the portrait, the shaded areas around Lisa's mouth and eyes have the thickest layers of paint, yet so gentle is Leonardo's touch that even close examination cannot detect a single stroke on the surface of the panel.
 Almost daily for two years I have contemplated a reproduction of the Mona Lisa with increasing appreciation as well as affection.  The details mesmerize me: Lisa turning gently as if inviting conversation.  Her warm brown eyes glistening, one pupil ever so slightly more dilated, a split second behind the other in adjusting to a change in light.  Her blood pulsing just beneath the translucent skin of her neck.  Leonardo's sfumature (subtle shadings) blurring into an uncertain look at the corners of her eyes and mouth.  Her lips rising but stopping on the very cusp of an asymmetrical smile.
The face of una donna vera stirs before my eyes.  Centuries before the invention of the camera, Leonardo captured the immediacy of a photograph in a portrait of life itself (176).