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  • If you want praise of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" as art, you can find it.


  • But what if you think it's just...


  • ... fine?


  • What's the cynic's explanation for the "Mona Lisa"?


  • Why is the "Mona Lisa" so, so famous?


  • Is it really that much better than da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine"?


  • That seems better; there's one more ermine.


  • But it's "Mona", who is so famous, that the director of the Louvrewhere "Mona Lisa" livessaid 80% of their visitors are only there to see that one painting.


  • If you don't think "Mona Lisa" is famous just because she's somehow ten times better than every other painting, her story reveals something more interesting.


  • Something about how art breaks into wider culture.


  • And it might never have happened if the "Mona Lisa" hadn't disappeared.


  • Before "Mona Lisa" became a mass culture star, before she vanished, one critic made her a work of art worth taking.


  • And he was so over-the-top insanely in love with the painting that he single-handedly made it a masterpiece.


  • Walter Pater's 1873 book "The Renaissance" was key.


  • It came out more than 350 years after Leonardo painted "Mona Lisa", but it defined the painting for Victorians.


  • That was key in an age when it was hard to actually see the art, so the words did the work.


  • Here is the epic semi-colon-stuffed paragraph at the center of his ode to "Mona Lisa".


  • Highlights:


  • "...the animalism of Greece."


  • "She is older than the rocks among which she sits."


  • "Like the vampire, she has been dead many times."


  • This was the purplest prose of all time, but people loved the stuff.


  • Oscar Wilde thought the essay's writing was great.


  • He praised, "the musical of the mystical prose".


  • And every general interest profile of the Louvre, from academic guidebooks to discussions clubs in Paducah, used Pater's words to talk about "Mona."


  • Other critics jumped on ⏤ "Mona" was a popular, secular painting that they could analyze.


  • Unlike da Vinci's "Last Supper", they could supply all the meaning.


  • But even at her peak, "Mona Lisa" was just art-world famous, not the most famous painting of all time.


  • In 1907, a vandal of the Louvre targeted a picture by Ingres, not da Vinci.

    1907 年、ルーブル美術館でダ・ヴィンチではなくアングルの絵が狙われました。

  • And, in 1910, amidst rumors of theft, papers called "Mona" just the second most famous painting in the Louvre, after Raphael's "Sistina Madonna".

    1910 年、盗難の噂が流れる中、新聞は「モナ」をラファエロの「システィナ・マドンナ」に次ぐルーヴル美術館の名画と称しました。

  • It took a real theft to take "Mona" from art syllabus highlight to mass culture icon.


  • These are Vincenzo Peruggia's fingerprints.


  • This is Vincenzo Peruggia's mugshot.


  • He has one because, on August 21, 1911, the former Louvre worker lifted the "Mona Lisa" off the wall and took it home.

    1911 年 8 月 21 日、元ルーヴル職員が「モナリザ」を壁から持ち上げて持ち帰ったからです。

  • It took the Louvre a day to even notice, but the media didn’t have as subdued of a reaction.

    ルーヴル美術館は 1 日で気がついたが、メディアはそれほど落ち着いた反応を示さなかったです。

  • The painting went missing for two years, and every time, the pressoften quoting Patercalled it the greatest portrait there ever was.

    その絵は 2 年間行方不明になったが、そのたびにマスコミは、しばしばペイターの言葉を引用して、この絵を「史上最高の肖像画」と呼びました。

  • They speculated that Mona's smile had driven the thief mad, they wrote art thief fan fiction, and they constantly daydreamed about "Mona Lisa's" whereabouts.


  • Thousands went to the Louvre just to see empty hooks hanging on the wall.


  • The robbery and manhunt were like a two-year ad campaign for the painting.

    強盗と捜査は、2 年にわたる絵画の広告キャンペーンのようなものでした。

  • And because you couldn't just Google "'Mona Lisa' before it was stolen", it was hard for people to see the actual painting and say, "What's the big deal?"


  • When Peruggia was caught, he said his goal was to bring "Mona" back to her native Italy.


  • By then, she was the most famous painting in the world due, in part, to her absence.


  • Just as critics could smear prose on her blank face, the press could hang a reputation on those empty hooks in the wall.


  • When "Mona Lisa" was stolen, she left a masterpiece.


  • After her recovery and a two-week tour in Florence, she returned to the Louvre bigger than just art.

    回復後、フィレンツェで 2 週間のツアーを行って、彼女はルーヴル美術館に美術品以上のものを携えて戻ってきました。

  • She was a story and a legend and prominently shown in every paper that reported her recovery.


  • It was the big reveal after two years of suspense, now with a story that merited Walter Pater's hyperbole.


  • From that point on, she attracted presidential speeches and parodies.


  • "...also come to pay homage to this great creation of the civilization which we share."


  • The momentum never stopped.


  • In the end, the cynics' interpretation and the gob-smacked critics' interpretation have something in common.


  • "Mona Lisa" isn't a portrait, but a blank face.

    「モナリザ 」は肖像画ではなく、空白な顔です。

  • A place for critics to paint meaning, and people to find mystery.


  • That’s why she was so famous, not because of how she's painted, but what we see in her.


  • If that's not art, then what is?


  • I found one 1909 description of the "Mona Lisa" that seemed particularly prescient.

    1909 年の「モナリザ」についての記述で、特に予言的と思われるものを見つけました。

  • The writer said, "Even those whose first expressions is 'huh' and proclaimed frankly that they cannot see her beauty or her interest find themselves disputing hotly over both."


  • That's probably still the case today.


If you want praise of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" as art, you can find it.


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    韓澐 に公開 2022 年 04 月 09 日