Mona lisa : The first femen

Da vinci, without having to introduce him, one of the most controversial painters in history. And still intriguing the world by his artworks, refered as philosophical and mind blowing, at their top the Mona Lisa of the Louvre. But, we have to understand the fact that this painting has nothing magical, neither an ignus fatuus aspect, but just a special perception of everyday life, that started a silent revolution in modern society.

“ We may frankly admit that certain people deceive themselves who apply the title ‘a good master’ to a painter who can only do the head or the figure well. Surely it is no great achievement if by studying one thing only during his whole lifetime he attain to some degree of excellence therein! But since, as we know, painting embraces and contains within itself all the things which nature produces or which result from the fortuitous actions of men, and in short whatever can be comprehended.
For do you not see how many and how varied are the actions which are performed by men alone? “

Talking about the esence of drawing a portrait, Da vinci underline clearly the fact that an artist must add to the face drawn a touch of vividity, a touch of action that refers to the background of the person drawn. Let’s take a look at the portrait of “ Ginevra De Benci “ drawn in 1474.

Forced at the age of 16 years old, to mary a rich friend of her family. Da vinci has expressed the right moment of the situation, drown in sadness, empty look expressing loss and weakness, look at her mouth, its corners, refering to an emotionnal dialectic, expressing refusal and obligation, being defeated by duty.

That’s about Ginevra, and how Da vinci tried to express her story in just one moment, one instant. But in that moment, he needed to capture all her emotions in only one painting.

Nonetheless, that portrait is drawn by Leonardo at the age of 22. His philosophy of making emotions float hasn’t reached its perfection, until 1488 with “ Lady with an Ermine “, where he started using the symbolism, the meaning of action and gesture. After some years, he painted another mistress of Sforza ( Duke of Milan ), named as “ La Belle Ferronnière “ .

Obviously, the viewer notice a similitude between the three faces. The mysterious and the arid look, the awkward smile that says the contrary of what the eyes express ( try to hide the half top of the face, and guess the emotion of the girl ). It’s a kind of dialectical expression, telling so much things in only one picture. Why this ambiguous state of mind ? Well, Leonardo or the artist has nothing to do in the portrait, because he captured the right moment of the situation in all the neutral state. Both of them ( Right and left ),Cecilia Gallerani, Lucrezia Crivelli , mistresses of the married Duke, and both of them had children from him. Pure treason. Da vinci couldn’t let that pass away, because as an artist every details must appear, including the situation. Them cold eyes reveal everything, they tell us betreal, ruse and cunning … No such a faithful portrait had been drawn until that time, it captures more than a mechanical image, but it gives all the background behind it. Transcending the body to the soul.

What about Mona Lisa ?

We know certainly that she’s the wife of a merchant, middle class woman, mother of six children. But why this ignus fatuus face ?

By a simple observation of the other Leonardo’s artworks, we can understand a simple fact : Mona Lisa is the conclusion of Da vinci’s philosophy. It expresses at the high level what he has always tried to show us, we viewers, the perfect instant. That one which includes all the emotions, all the story. A real dialectic. But, to understand the emotions all in one, on Lisa’s face, you only need to observe a woman in her top emotional state. Yes, all the secret is in front of our eyes, we see it every day, but who have those eyes to observe it, the heart to feel it ?

Women in every second, in everyday life, in contrary of men feelings, they have more than a constant state. A woman can be angry and satisfied at the same time, can be happy and reveals sadness, or even may be interested of something and express disinterest. We all heard from a girl : “ Do whatever you want “, and she means in fact the opposite. Or she looks away when she really likes something or someone.

An unbreakable enigma. But in fact, three words can describe the essence of women in its purest : The perfect instant. And nonetheless, Mona Lisa is nothing but the expression of the subjectivity of girls, in other words, their reality behind all the accessories put up by society. Go back and compare La Joconde to the three other girls, painted in the whole life of the artist, from 70's to 90's to the beginning of the 14th century. Some conclusions are for sure :

1 . No red.

Red, that may be merged with blue, was a fashionnable color for women customs. Especially for big events such being drawn. Don’t forget that a Portrait is taken only once in a whole life at that time, so it’s the biggest event for the person. ( Look further at : “ Madalenna Doni - Raphael , “ Portrait of a lady “ - Francesco Foschi … )

2. No jewelries

Look at Ginevra, or “ La Belle Ferronnière “, or any other portrait at that time. Women are embellished like if their going to a wedding, or getting married … They want to appear at their perfect beauty. ( Look further : Girl with a Unicorn - Raphael , “ Portrait of a girl “ Domenico Ghirlandaio )

3. Attitude of a queen

The way she’s sitting is normal, but the way she’s acting is out of normal. The hand of Leonardo had reached the highest level of understanding what’s behing the skin, and also what’s behind the body. He encompassed all what women can be in one picture. Authority, individuality, ambiguousness, bashfulness … all what women didn’t have at that time, respect and admiration. And what to think else from a bastard taken from his mother at the age of 6 months ?

From that, we can conlude one thing : By thinking of what’s the mystery of the Mona Lisa, we’re thinking, implicitly, in the mystery of the feminine gender. Da vinci showed us, in a bourgeois and artistic style, what today the Ukrainian group of female activists ( Femen ) trying to show us, by breaking morals and sacred state of women. Being topless and showing them breasts to all the world, is the same as being ambiguous and honorly presented at the time of the Mona Lisa. Both of them tell us one message, that almost all the feminist of all the times had tried to pass, from Hypatia to Judith Butler, passing by Anna Karenina of Tolstoy, Mme Bovary of Flaubert, Simone de Beauvoir and so on … By showing what we hide, either breasts or woman’s individuality, we tell to the world :


PS : A special thanks to my beloved Souki for inspiration. And for more informations about me, the author, visit :