The Mona Lisa: bewitching, seductive, world famous. In the minds of millions, she is the ultimate work of art. Yet behind the enigmatic smile, she remains a mystery, fuelling endless speculation and theories.
But is that all about to change? Is the world's most famous painting finally giving up its secrets?
Presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon, this landmark film uses new evidence to investigate the truth behind her identity and where she lived. It decodes centuries-old documents and uses state-of-the-art technology that could unlock the long-hidden truths of history's most iconic work of art.
In the minds of millions of people around the world, one work of art stands apart: the Mona Lisa. It is the most universally recognised, most universally viewed painting in human history. For over five hundred years, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece has remained a unique and enigmatic portrait.
No other work has stoked such a fierce desire to know its tantalising secrets. There is a mystery over the identity of the model and the muse and almost every expert has touted their own pet theory about the woman in the picture. Was she Madame Lisa, a middle class Florentine housewife; or a well-to-do Italian aristocrat? Did Leonardo model the face on his male lover? Or is it a self-portrait of the artist himself, disguised in drag?
There is a mystery over whether Leonardo painted more than one version; and a mystery over conflicting dates and theories about when the painting was commissioned and finished.
But now new research and improved technology are revealing a trail of brand new clues that could unveil, once and for all, the secrets of the Mona Lisa. Centuries-old documents are emerging for the first time. Hidden layers beneath the painted surface are now being made visible and extraordinary claims are being made that the painting hanging in the Louvre was not Leonardo’s first Mona Lisa.
With exclusive access to an entire casebook of brand new revelations about the Mona Lisa, this landmark film embarks on a detective story with major findings that have the potential to transform our understanding of this iconic painting and our knowledge of Leonardo himself. It will be a journey that will see the latest optical, forensic and historical tools and techniques being deployed. Stage by stage, we will see the questions and the mysteries unravel as we meet the art historians, authenticators, forensic specialists and academics attempt to get to the truth culminating in new evidence that reveals details and secrets that have eluded us for years.
And, perhaps most startlingly of all, that the final image we have is not really Lisa.
Premiered on 9th December 2015, BBC2 at 9pm.
Nominated for The Grierson Awards 2016 and Banff World Media Festival.
1 x 52' and 1 x 59' versions available.
“This was impressive programme-making. Each piece of the jigsaw got just the right emphasis, sweeping us along on Graham-Dixon’s journey with all the vigour of a thriller.”
Gerard O’Donovan, The Telegraph
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