27 May 2009

True History: The Mona Lisa

There are some things in life and art that are plainly obvious to both the creator and the spectator. No one's looking for hidden meaning in Transformers or the cover of a Cheerios box (although...). Then there are those pieces of richly layered art which may seem obvious, but in reality have guarded their true secrets under a fine facade. It's time to scratch beneath the surface of one such painting and reveal, finally, its true history.


The Mona Lisa



Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece has been hailed as the greatest painting ever put to canvas by more than one art critic, but they have failed to bring to light the true mysteries behind this mysterious girl. Art lover and layman alike have burdened themselves with the question: what is she smiling about?, but that is simply a piece of misdirection, masterfully laid in place by Leonardo himself. You thought there were secrets hidden in The Last Supper? No, no. Here is where the secrets lie.

You see, what many people don't know is that Leonardo da Vinci was Italian. As in, he was actually from Italy, a place of evil and darkness. In the 16th century, as today, Italy was rife with two things: spaghetti and the Mafia. Leonardo da Vinci invented the former and was a prominent member of the latter, rising as far as consigliere in the De Luca family before being gunned down at an abandoned warehouse for selling heroin to the mulanyans in south central Rome, expressly against Don De Luca's wishes.

Mona Lisa, whose real name was Lisa del Giacondo, was in reality the wife of powerful silk merchant "Big Joe" Giacondo, with whom the De Luca crime syndicate had extraordinary bad blood, due to some matters involving six goats and a shipment of cocktail dresses that "should have never made it off the truck". While most of his compatriots in the Family regarded Leonardo's painting as something to be endured, rather than celebrated (or, as one high ranking member put it: "pure faggotry"), he was well known in the greater community as a wonderful artist. It was this reputation that brought Big Joe to commission Leonardo to paint his daughter, with the secret hopes that Leonardo would be wiled by her charm, fall in love, and his problems with the Family would disappear.

Unfortunately for Giacondo, when Don de Luca heard about the painting, he insisted Leonardo play a trick. You see, in that era there was no greater insult to a woman than to suggest she had no eyebrows. Strange, but true. The boss commanded that Leonardo paint Giacondo's daughter perfectly, but leave off the eyebrows. The insult would be felt throughout generations of Italians, and it would be sweeter revenge than any bloodshed could possibly bring.

Though reluctantly, Leonardo did as his Don instructed. To his surprise, however, by the time he had finished the painting, de Luca had grown bored of waiting, had fitted both Giacondo and his daughter with cement shoes, and relocated them to a watery grave at the bottom of the Mediterranean. The painting, however, went on to become an enormous success, as people from all over gathered to gaze in wonder at the Mona Lisa, which meant, literally, "Lisa, of bare eyebrow".

35 comments:

freetheunicorns said...

Maybe this is what lead woman to begin plucking their eyebrows.

Funnyrunner said...

Golly; I feel so uneducated. I never knew that... What do you suppose Rodin's The Thinker is pondering?

Nate Fakes said...

Yes, my wife learns about eye brows worth constantly in Cosmo's she has around here. It all stems from Mona Lisa.

Dave said...

You know Shawn, reading one of your posts is like going for a car ride that suddenly veers off the road and into a ravine. Whoo-hoo!

shopgirl101 said...

Why didn't they teach me this when I took an art history class in college? I feel like I got gipped!

zodiblog said...

I think you just invented a new genre of historical fiction. Dan Brown meets Mario Puzo. I like it. Oh, by the way, I’m Italian. Maybe in the future we should keep such things to ourselves. Between friends, no?

Shawn said...

FTU: I'd say it's almost a certainty.

Funnyrunner: Roger Ebert has a funny line about that very thing in his review of the new Night at the Museum flick.

Nate: Cosmo knows all. Don't doubt it's power.

Dave: Strangely enough, that's exactly what riding in a car with me is like as well.

Brooke: When college won't tell you the whole truth, the Shark Tank is there.

Zodiblog: Uh...don't kill me, plz.

Ganjaxguy87 said...

Hey just checking out the blog, funny. It kept me interested all the way through, I like the relation to the youth. Keep up the good work...

Soda and Candy said...

Heh, fantastic. I'm changing my name to Mona & Candy because I too know the pain of sparse eyebrows.

Still, I'd rather these than horrid Brooke Shields style numbers.

Soda and Candy said...

also, I agree with Ganjaxguy87, your relation to the youth is very good.

Vivienne said...

Like zodiblog, I'm Italian, (well half anyway, the other half is Redneck)and your historical account is exactly what I heard around the dinner table when growing up. Over big platters of Pasta Puttanesca and BBQ ribs, my relatives told us the true story. (I heard it was 7 goats though...)

George said...

You're too silly for your own good, Shawn. :) As an art school graduate, I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

Jenn Thorson said...

Oh wow. So that's where the movie Goodlisas, came from, starring Ray Liota and that no-eyebrowed actress whose name eludes me...

Oh, I remember now-- Whoopi Goldberg. :)

Shawn said...

Ganjax: Yep, yep, I watch the MTV.

Soda and Candy: The Tom Snyder look is never a great one for females.

Vivienne: Redneck and Italian, eh? Well, that's just the kind of combination that I would expect to exaggerate the number of goats in a story.

George: Well, I'm sure you already knew most of this.

Jenn: I'm not in the...habit...of watching that movie very often (raising pinky to mouth).

Yoda said...

terribly written shlock this is.

Dalton J. Fox said...

I feel like I get just little bit smarter every time I read your blog.

Lady Sarcasm said...

I just now noticed she had no brows, how incredibly lame of me. *hangs head* LOL!

Winky Twinky said...

I never noticed the lack of brows before either... The Shark Tank is so educational... I wonder what Tony Soprano would think.... bet he never even gave all this a thought!! Maybe YOU should head up the New Jersey Family......

Nan-Nan said...

Ah, Man! You had me at goats and cocktail dresses! I am all lafwheezy again.....

bearmancartoons said...

"Oh Lame Saint"!!!

Blue Balls The Art Historian said...

Not true!

Mona Lisa was a hooker with a heart of gold. Leo was her pimp. He had garlic in his soul (a line that Dr. Seuss would use later on – and he stole it from me – the bastard, but I digress…) and a limp noodle in his pants. Italy is a myth. Like Atlantis. It doesn’t exist. Only in our wet dreams. Well, mine, anyway. Oh, and the painting never did become a big success. A little research wouldn’t kill you, my friend.

Theresa said...

Thank you for filling in that bit of mystery. I'd always suspected as much. Now what's the deal with Vinnie "One Ear" Van Gogh?

Jeff said...

The Mona Lisa also looks like the image of the Veil of Veronica. For those of you not familiar with history, Veronia was in the Archie comics and was later the inspiration for the series "Veronica Mars." In other words, I have no point.

mama-face said...

I am reading about THE Mona Lisa while waiting for my teenager to get home? I am plotting where and when I will use this new found, might be true, information. It will probably come in handy...I just don't know where.

Knightmedic said...

uh hey hey.... hey there.... just uhhh yeah, just checkin out the... the bloooog, lookkinnnnnn pretty goood, uhh yeah... keep up the good work... - your most biggest fan

Eric said...

Those crazy modern artists like da Vinci are really pushing the envelope using all those bold sepia shades, raw and burnt umbers... I honestly worry about the state of where the art world is headed with these young firebrand 'artists' like Leonardo screwing it up for the rest of us.

Off topic, but Rodin's The Thinker - he just had a killer toothache, right?

dizzblnd said...

The things the Liberals take out of our history books!! Damn! Thank you for this enlightening piece of unknown history

Shawn said...

Yoda: Well, you were in The Phantom Menance, so I guess you would know.

Dalton: The purpose isn't education, but it's a nice side benefit.

Lady S: I'm not sure I knew either before this post (and the intensive, exhaustive research that went into writing it).

Winky: Maybe I should! It seems to me like a lot of sitting around and a lot of eating. I can do those things.

Nan-Nan: Imagine if it had been goats IN cocktail dresses...

Bearman: O Draconian Devil!

Blue Balls: How dare you come on my blog and try to show me up! None of that is true in the least. Well, except the Italy part, but I thought it was understood that we were speaking metaphorically.

Shawn said...

Theresa: The Dutch Mafia is even more evil than the Italian one. Vinnie's story is too gruesome for a family blog such as this.

Jeff: I don't feel comfortable requiring the comments to have a "point". It would be a bit of a double standard.

Mama-face: The right opportunity is ALWAYS. Sure it will carry more power if you wait until the Mona Lisa/da Vinci is naturally brought up, but come one, that just doesn't happen often enough. You'll forget the important details.

Knightmedic: Thank you for your continued support, both morally and financially.

Eric: I know...it all looks like the work of a toddler, right?

Dizz: You are welcome. Our world history will be hidden no longer as long as I'm around.

nipsy said...

But the question remains : Exactly why is she smiling.. I bet no one looked under her dress..

Marissa said...

Clearly Mona Lisa's eyebrows were stolen by Frida Kahlo, as evidenced by all her portraits.

And as Nipsy says: check under the dress. Could be a "Crying Game" surprise!

Heather Cherry said...

Looks like Whoopi Goldberg.

Heather Cherry said...

LOL @ Marissa on the Frida Kahlo thing!

Shawn said...

Nipsy: Leonardo had probably hoped to.

Marissa: Frida does seem to have double the average eyebrow thickness.

Heather: You know, that's the second reference to Whoopi. The first time I thought it was just silliness but after yours I had to turn to Google. I never realized she didn't have eyebrows. Weird.

Wendy said...

I'm plagiarizing this essay for my art history class. I will let you know what grade we get.