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To the fascinating romance that has gathered about Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of "Mona Lisa" in the Louvre this paper adds another touch-the question as to its right to be called an older picture than the "Mona Lisa" of the Prado. Making no pretensions to expertness in art criticism, the author bases his contention on a careful study of the historical aspects of the case. His theory will be widely discussed.—THE EDITOR.


HE amazing adventure through which the "Mona Lisa" of the Louvre has just passed, or, rather, is just passing, for the tale is not yet told, was not necessary, perhaps, to make this painting the most celebrated, from other than artistic reasons, in the world. Already its fame was wide-spread. Every statement concerning it has had for many years the eager attention of the world's newspapers. For many years that so-called "inscrutable smile" has been the subject of unending speculation and dissension, and the fable of the painting's "malign influence" has these many years become an actuality by sheer reason of reiterated suggestion upon the minds of the superstitious and impressionable.

Of recent years there has arisen a discussion as to the authenticity of this celebrated Louvre painting as compared with that of the other "Mona Lisa," which hangs in the Real Museo del Prado of Madrid. This story, so far, has not reached the general public, though discussion is furious among specialists; and experts are divided, after the fashion of experts, into two opposing and strenuously vociferous camps. It is a most interesting story, full of complication and romance.

The matter of the Prado portrait concerns both history and connoisseurship, and while the former may not be difficult to establish, the mere exposition of the latter is confronted by specious traditions and tastes. It is not so easy for those who claim priority for the "Mona Lisa" of the Prado to disperse the glamour of artistic appreciation and appraisal that has long clothed the "Mona Lisa" of the Louvre, and caused it to be acclaimed as the most marvelous and valuable portrait in the whole world.

Still, this glamour is altogether a modern vesture. Each of the early royal possessors of the pictures was thoroughly convinced that his was the masterpiece, and each conviction continued to have its supporters until, in a period of political activity and artistic indifference in the early part of the last century, a gratuitous note in a Spanish art catalogue proclaimed the Prado portrait to be a "copy" of the one in the Louvre. Since then the former has been gradually, but constantly, stripped of fame, which just as gradually and constantly has been diverted toward the latter. Poetry and prose have eulogized the Louvre lady's slowly fading smile, and have attempted to read its mysterious message, or have extolled the beauty of her dissolving hands.

Michelet, Gautier, George Sand, and Walter Pater, to mention the first names that come to mind, have all had a share in augmenting and perpetuating the legend. To deny or even to question its latest evolution would be to confess a gross ignorance of the purpose of art and the mission of sentimentality.

A final touch is given by the current Paris Baedeker:

During his second stay at Florence (1503) Leonardo painted his "Gioconda" ("Mona Lisa"), the most famous female portrait in the world, rendered still more famous by its mysterious disappearance from the Louvre in August, 1911.


IT is of romantic, if not of academic, interest that the first royal owners of the "Mona Lisa" of the Louvre and the "Mona Lisa" of the Prado-Francis I of

France and Charles I of Spain, better known as the Roman Emperor Charles V -should not only have been rivals for the


Director of French National Museums in 1911, and victim of the theft of the "Mona Lisa."

imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire, but also rival art collectors, who found in Italy their most alluring and fruitful field of activity and conquest. On this field, Francis, who was six years older than Charles, was first to arrive. The wars these monarchs waged on the Peninsula for the possession of the imperial crown need not particularly interest us, for they had nothing to do with the acquirement of the pictures. Let me, therefore, first trace the career of each picture from the time of its departure, and then, if possible, discover when and in what circumstances it was painted.

Leonardo da Vinci, who had painted many pictures in Florence and Milan, and whose fame toward the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century had spread throughout all northern Italy, spent from 1514 until nearly 1516 in Rome under the protection of Pope Leo X. But his Holiness was not an easy patron; he found much fault with the painter's work, and did not sufficiently reprove those who

found more. So Leonardo sought the presence of Francis I, then at Vicenza. Francis, who for some time had been trying in vain to attach Michelangelo to his court, welcomed with delight the appearance of the older and then more famous painter. Leonardo, who was sixty-four years of age, eagerly accepted the French king's invitation to follow him to France and take up his residence at Fontainebleau. There he passed the remaining three years of his life, painting few pictures, it is true, but displaying remarkable genius and enthusiasm in devising entertainments for the court.

It is on record that Leonardo took many of his smaller pictures with him when he went to Fontainebleau. Some he gave to the king, some the king purchased, and some were later claimed by his heirs in Italy. Among the last is the "Madonna and Infant Christ with St. Anne," which was returned to Italy, purchased there by Richelieu in 1629, and is now in the Salle Carré of the Louvre, where it was recently discovered to be nearly ruined by the fungus growth that had collected on its surface on account of the "protecting" glass. Among the pictures purchased by Francis was the "Mona Lisa," which was placed in the Cabinet Doré at Fontainebleau. There its presence was recorded by both Père Dan, the king's chaplain, who said that the king had paid 4000 gold florins, or about $9000 for it, and by Cardinal Louis of Aragon, who described the background as a "mountaineous landscape," and added that he had heard it reported that the portrait had been painted for Giuliano de' Medici.

The panel was taken from Fontainebleau to Versailles by Louis XIV in 1642, and did not make its appearance in the Louvre Palace until after the Revolution --to be exact, when Napoleon enlarged the palace so as to make room for the artistic booty of his raids on the art centers abroad.

Meanwhile, what of the other "Mona Lisa," the one in the Prado? This picture was secured by Charles V from Leonardo's Italian heirs, taken to Madrid, and hung in the royal palace, where, with other works of art brought hither by the emperor-king, it was acclaimed or ignored according to the ever-fluctuating taste and culture of successive Spanish sovereigns.

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DOUBTLESS the royal Spanish archives, if one were allowed to examine them, would tell us something definite. What appears to be quite sufficient for my purposes, however, has come to hand. Antonio Palomino de Castro y Velasco, the famous artist and author of art books, writing in 1724, said in regard to the Leonardo portrait Charles V had brought to Madrid:

The original portrait [el retrato original], painted in the year 1500, during Leonardo's long sojourn in Florence, is a work of supreme endeavor by the famous artist of the Val d' Arno.

After this Palomino quotes from Vasari's famous description of the "Mona Lisa," judging quite naturally, and correctly, as I hope to make clear, that the writer had in view the portrait that had come to Spain, and not the one that had gone to France; and then Palomino adds:

This woman, famous for her great beauty, wife of the Florentine caballero Francisco Giocondo, is portrayed in one-third length, slightly turned to the left, and sitting with crossed hands. She is in mourning dress, although there is gold braid on her bodice, and the scarf falling from the shoulders shows the colored sleeves beneath. A very thin veil on the head extends to the middle of the arms, and falls in delicate folds on the shoulders. And the hair is dressed in curls slightly hidden by the transparent veil [Y el cabello caido a bucles, apenas disfrazados por el transparente velo].

During the eighteenth century, the art objects collected by Charles V, and later added to by Philip II, were the prey of wealthy foreign nobles, to whom the Spanish custodes sold many for whatever they would bring. Many, too, were destroyed in the palace fire of 1743.

In 1818 the Marques de Sta. Cruz and the Duque de Gor induced the second wife. of Ferdinand VII, known as La Portuguesa, to have a few of the best pictures collected from the various palaces where they had been stored and neglected, and placed in prepared rooms in the Prado Palace. The queen at first advanced $200 a month for repairs and cartage, and then $1000.

This was the beginning of the Real

Museo de Pintura del Prado, now famous for its Velasquezs, Titians, and El Grecos; but the only thing that need concern us is that in it Charles V's "Mona Lisa" was for the first time paraded as a "copy" by both Cruz and Gor, who wrote extensively, but not very intelligently, in 1834, of the famous collection they had been instrumental in bringing together. To emphasize this point, it may be added parenthetically that Spanish connoisseurship, such as it has become, is a present-day evolution from a growing consciousness of possessing rare treasures of art first appraised by foreign virtuosos. It is a question whether a genuine love for art accompanies it, except in very rare individual cases; for it must not be forgotten that the Spaniards were themselves the last to recognize the genius of their greatest painter, and tried to dispose of the entire Prado collection for a beggarly $150,000 to the English Government in 1830, just four years before Cruz and Gor gratuitously sealed the fate of its "Mona Lisa."

For its fate certainly was sealed. In the first edition of Don Pedro de Madrazo's catalogue of the Prado collection, issued in 1872, we read:

No. 550. Painting of "Mona Lisa" gen

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BUT which

picture did

Vasari really mean? Giorgio Vasari was born in 1511, eight years before the death of Leonardo da Vinci. Unfortunately for his art, he painted for the most part in

For Francesco del Giocondo, Leonardo undertook to paint the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife, but after loitering over it for four years he finally left it unfinished.

Whoever shall desire to see how far art can imitate nature may do so to perfection in this head wherein every peculiarity that could be depicted by the utmost subtlety of


(Dimensions of canvas 25. 50 by 20.50 inches)


weak imitation of the great ones who had just preceded him; but, fortunate for the history of art, he left a written record of those great ones, compiled from many sources, but chiefly from visual and oral evidence.

Here is what we find in the first quarto edition of his work, "Delle Vite de'più eccelenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori," printed by the Giunti of Florence in 1550, dedicated to Cosimo de' Medici, and commonly called to-day "Vasari's Lives of the Artists":

the pencil (fine

brush) has been faithfully




The eyes have the lustrous brightness and moisture which is seen in life, and around them are those pale, red, and slightlylivid circles, also proper to nature, with the lashes, which can only

be copied, as they are, with the greatest difficulty; the eyebrows are also represented with the closest exactitude, where fuller


where more thinly set, with the separate hairs delineated as they issue from the skin, every turn being followed, and all the

pores exhibited in a manner that could not be more natural than it is.

The nose with its beautiful and delicately roseate nostrils might easily be thought to be alive; the mouth, admirable in its outline, has the lips uniting the rose-tints of their color with that of the face, in the utmost perfection, and the carnation of the cheek does not appear to be painted, but truly of flesh and blood.

He who looks fixedly at the centre of the throat cannot but believe that he sees the beating of the pulses, and it may truly be

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