File:Da Vinci's Mona Lisa with original colors approximation.jpg

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English: This image shows how Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa in the Louvre might originally have looked like.

The colors of the Louvre painting have darkened and have been severely tinted by golden yellows and greens. I understand it is practically impossible to restore the painting to its original aspect because Leonardo used several layers of colored glazing (consisting of pigment diluted within a transparent medium) in order to saturate and increase the brilliance of the colors of the painting, in particular in the shadows. The medium used in these glazes has oxidized giving the picture its current strongly tinted aspect. The restorer may safely remove the layers of varnish that have been used to protect the painting. But the only way to remove the tinted aspect would be by also removing Leonardo’s glazes, but then part of the work of the artist would also be lost. Unfortunately restaurers in earlier centuries have already done so causing a relative flattening of the painting. Perhaps in the future technology will be developed that will allow the real or virtual removal or substitution of the discolored medium while retaining the effect of the glazes Leonardo achieved.

The Mona Lisa is arguably the world’s most famous painting and many intents have been made to produce an image with a more faithful approximation of Leonardo’s original vision. The current image represents my personal effort. I have produced it by using various image editing tools in order to come close to the original coloring. Given that I am painter myself, in many instances I used my own subjective judgment about what Leonardo might have desired. As a rough guide I have also used a the copy of Mona Lisa at the Prado museum which many specialists believe was painted by an apprentice concurrently with Leonardo. In the Prado version the sitter wears bright red sleeves which I found to be inelegant and traces of which do not seem to be present in Leonardo’s painting. Another copy, the so-called Isleworth Mona Lisa which some believe to be an earlier original work by Leonardo, uses the yellow color for the sleeves. So I decided to keep the familiar yellow color.

Even though it is impossible to know how close my finished image is to Leonardo’s original, the end-result pleases me for various reasons: The colors are now more balanced and certainly closer to the original. Leonardo’s love for the sfumato and for mysterious darks is well attested, as is his joy for painting misty and epic backgrounds. (I have not tried to recreate the Prado version’s tempestuous clouds, because, again, I found no such information present in the Louvre version and because I disliked the look of it.) The effect that most pleased me is that the unseemly flatness of the original is now transformed into a three-dimensional transparent space with a rounded and weighty woman’s torso that clearly stands in front of background far in the distance. One feels that the sitter's left shoulder is closer than the left. The face is now more beautiful and I believe more joyful - perhaps because it too has acquired a natural three-dimentionality.

But I am not entirely happy. The sitter’s dress has a mostly undefined coloring and I believe Leonardo’s original would have flattered the sitter with a more jewel colored attire. I would also have liked more definition in the hair and headdress. The lower part of the painting beneath the crossed arms appears to have suffered significantly and I couldn't define what it represented originally.
Source Own work
Author Dianelos


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File history

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current08:24, 9 August 2018Thumbnail for version as of 08:24, 9 August 20181,448 × 2,164 (1.45 MB)Dianelos (talk | contribs)Many improvements in color balance, contrast and crackling.
14:50, 20 July 2018Thumbnail for version as of 14:50, 20 July 20181,448 × 2,164 (1.82 MB)Dianelos (talk | contribs)Slightly more subdued skin tones give a remarkably more natural appearance. This should be the final version of this round.
09:41, 20 July 2018Thumbnail for version as of 09:41, 20 July 20181,448 × 2,164 (1.83 MB)Dianelos (talk | contribs)Skin color improved, as well as a large number of minor retouchings.
14:43, 19 July 2018Thumbnail for version as of 14:43, 19 July 20181,448 × 2,164 (1.76 MB)Dianelos (talk | contribs)various corrections - with a painting of that importance even minor changes appear significant
15:50, 18 July 2018Thumbnail for version as of 15:50, 18 July 20181,448 × 2,164 (1.71 MB)Dianelos (talk | contribs)User created page with UploadWizard
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