The Mona Lisa painting is probably one of the most popular art pieces in the world. The painting is known for its mystery, especially the secret smirk. There’s also the Mona Lisa effect, the concept that the eyes in the painting are actually following you. The concept was named after the portrait by the famous Leonardo da Vinci from the Renaissance period. Well, for all its glory, the painting might just need a new moniker now. Researchers from the Bielefeld University in Germany took a very close look at the eyes of the Mona Lisa just to see whether the idea that the eyes are following you is true or it’s just a myth. After all, many people could have sworn that the eyes of the painting located in the Louvre in Paris tracked them everywhere they went in the museum.
Turns out there’s more to this than meets the eye. According to psychologists, people are good at checking whether or not others are looking at them. This is perhaps the same reactions people get when they view the Mona Lisa. According to researchers from Bielefeld, the Mona Lisa effect can kick in when the subject of a photograph or in this case a painting tries to look ahead towards the viewer.
The team measured the perceived gaze of the Mona Lisa very carefully using computers. They noted that most people perceived the gaze to actually be off to the right-hand side. But upon reviewing their measurements, the researchers didn’t find any evidence to suggest that the painting’s eyes track the viewers. In fact, the findings were pretty conclusive that this is a false perception. In essence, the Mona Lisa doesn’t gaze at you everywhere you go. It’s all in your head.
There’s no doubt that the Mona Lisa effect is one of the many reasons why the painting has managed to get global acclaim. A lot of people find this effect a little peculiar and some even creepy. But it’s all part of the full package. The effect has also found new applications in modern technology. According to scientists who research avatars, the Mona Lisa effect has been used massively to help understand them better, especially in virtual reality.
Despite all these, there’s no doubt that the Mona Lisa is one of the most iconic paintings ever. It has been described as the most viewed, the most visited, and downright the most popular work of art ever created. It’s also the most valuable. In 1962, an insurance valuation put the painting at $100 million which means about $820 million in today’s money.
Researchers believe that the oil painting was done between 1503 and 1506. There are also reports indicating that Leonardo da Vinci may have continued to work on it for at least ten more years before it was ready. With all that history and of course the mystery, it’s no surprise that the Mona Lisa remains one of the most talked about pieces of art in the world. But even then, perhaps its constant gaze was a bit of a reach.