Leonardo’s Val di Chiana Map in the Mona Lisa – Forum

Date: 2112-06-26

Reference number: OPUSeJ 201206262038LVD

Links: to published article: http://digital.utpjournals.com/issue/43517/6#

to pre-reviewed version: http://www.opusej.org/archive/leonardo-da-vinci-incorporated-his-val-di-chiana-map-in-his-mona-lisa-painting/

view as PDF: Leonardo inc VdC ML (PDF)

to cover page: http://www.opusej.org/leonardos-val-di-chiana-map-in-the-mona-lisa-cover/

Title: Leonardo’s Val di Chiana map in the Mona Lisa

Original/ Pre-review title: Leonardo da Vinci incorporated his Val di Chiana map in his Mona Lisa painting 

Author: Pezzutto, Donato

Overview: Mona Lisa/ La Gioconda is analyzed, not as a mystery, but as a marvel of Leonardo’s investigation of cartographic perspective and binocular perception, displayed as a visual pun in the form of a puzzle. The painting was arranged to include two disjointed parts of one landscape as the background. The puzzle is solved by aligning two juxtaposed copies of the painting to reveal a reconstituted landscape that matches a fly-over view of a particular location as depicted by Leonardo in his Val di Chiana map. He developed cartographic perspective to enhance the portrayal of depth in his paintings, investigated binocular perception and stereoscopy, and displayed it all in the form of a pun on the term gioconda, as a prank or puzzle to be solved.

Moderator: Donato Pezzutto


1) Page 151, paragraph 5, line 16 reads;

along the base of the foothills below Cortina to Lake

should read;

along the base of the foothills below Cortona,…

2) Page 155, paragraph 4, line 17 reads;

that, as Leonardo wrote, “one should lose oneself in look-

ing” at the Mona Lisa.

should read;

that “one should lose oneself in look in the Mona Lisa.”


After the publication of this article, the Prado Museum of Madrid released the findings of research on the Prado Mona Lisahttp://www.museodelprado.es/en/research/estudios/estudio-de-la-gioconda-del-museo-nacional-del-prado/. Restoration, that removed the dark over-painting, revealed that the Prado copy had been hiding a landscape that matched the Louvre original. Furthermore, analysis of the infrared reflectographs revealed identical details beneath the paint layers of both paintings. Both had similar corrections that were not apparent in the final works. Their conclusion was that a member of Leonardo’s studio produced the Prado panel and that the copy and original were produced at the same time and in parallel.

The existence of a simultaneously-produced contemporaneous copy, lends support to the hypothesis that Leonardo had the Val di Chiana map, the original Mona Lisa and at least one copy of the painting, together in his studio. Thus he had the opportunity to produce the painting as he did, incorporating the map in the landscape and positioning the paintings to investigate stereoscopy. 2012-10-26


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Citation: Pezzutto, Donato, 2011, “Leonardo’s Val di Chiana Map in the Mona Lisa”, Cartographica 46:3, 149-59. Available at: http://digital.utpjournals.com/issue/43517/6#.

Academic citations forward:

1) Pezzutto, Donato, 2012, “Leonardo’s Landscapes as Maps” OPUSeJ, 2012-10-24, 1-31. http://www.opusej.org/2012/10/24/leonardos-landscapes-as-maps-cover-page/

2) Pezzutto, Donato, 2013, “Raphael’s Gioconda”, OPUSeJ201206262221RAG 2013-06-26,1-22.http://www.opusej.org/raphaels-gioconda-cover/

3) Puceković, Branko, 2013, “Leonardo da Vinci and His Contributions to Cartography”, Kartografija i geoinformacije (Cartography and Geoinformation) 12:20, 48. http://kig.kartografija.hr/index.php/kig/article/view/619.

4) Taylor, David Ruxton Fraser, 2013, “Some Recent Developments in the Theory and Practice of Cybercartography: Applications and Indigenous Mapping: An Introduction”, in David Ruxton Fraser Taylor and Tracey Lauriault, eds. Developments in the Theory and Practice of Cybercartography: Applications and Indigenous Mapping. Vol. 5. Elsevier,  11. http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=FYF5AAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=mona+lisa+pezzutto&ots=HwIUxxvBLF&sig=L0cp5dlFLsNunjIP8qo0EXxyfpU#v=onepage&q=mona%20lisa%20pezzutto&f=false.

5) Zöllner, Frank, 2013, “From the Face to the Aura. Leonardo da Vinci’s Sfumato and the History of Female Portraiture”, in  Inventing Faces: Rhetorics of Portraiture between Renaissance and Modernism, ed. Monika Körte , Deutscher Kunstverlag, München, 75. http://www.gko.uni-leipzig.de/fileadmin/user_upload/kunstgeschichte/pdf/zoellner/Publikationen/unselbst_Publi/From_the_Face_to_Aura.pdf.

6) Carbon, CC & Hesslinger, VM, 2014, “On the Nature of the Background Behind Mona Lisa”, Journal of Experimental Psychology. http://www.experimental-psychology.de/ccc/docs/pubs/CarbonHesslinger_MonaLisa-Background-INPRESS.pdf

Other citations forward:

1) Grosvenor, Bendor, 2011, “The Mona Lisa’s mystery solved?” Art History News 2011-09-26.http://www.arthistorynews.com/articles/598_Exclusive__The_Mona_Lisas_mystery_solved.

2) Alberge, Dalya, 2011-10-02, “Move over, Mona Lisa, you’re hiding the view”, Sunday Times(London, England), 22. (ISSN: 0956-1382) http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/157280404?versionId=171456454.

3) Joliveau, Thierry, 2011, “Géomatique, retour vers le futur: explorer les espaces imaginaires”, Conférence francophone ESRI Versailles, 2011 octobre 5-6. slides 28-31.http://www.slideshare.net/joliveau/sig2011.

4) Joliveau, T./ Pezzutto, D. Letters to the Editor, 2012, Cartographica 47:3, 202-6. doi:10.3138/carto.47.3.let1, doi:10.3138/carto.47.3.let2, doi:10.3138/carto.47.3.let3.http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/n36251g24542338w/fulltext.pdf.




Reference number: OPUSeJ 201206262038LVD

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