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Artcurial to offer a version of the portrait of Mona Lisa in its Old Masters & 19th Century Art
French school circa 1600 after Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of Lisa Gherardini known as La Joconde or Mona Lisa. Oil on oak panel - 74 x 52 cm Estimate: 150 000 - 200 000 €.



PARIS.- In the upcoming Old Masters & 19th Century sale, Artcurial will present its version of the portrait of Mona Lisa.

While there are plenty of copies and interpretations, past and present, of the Mona Lisa, including some that appear on the art market, the rare version to be offered at Artcurial on 9 November has many special qualities: it is an early piece, painted on a panel and is meticulously executed in a distinct style. It is an important and historic testimony providing an insight into the importance of the acquisition made by the King of France, François I at the start of the 16th century – thus well before the revival in interest following its theft at the start of the 20th century - and the fascination exerted by the immortal smile on painters of her adopted kingdom.

This oil was painted on an oak panel circa 1600 and is estimated to fetch between 150 000 € and 200 000 €. The painting will be on display from 5 and 8 October in Vienna, 27 to 29 October in Brussels and from 5 to 8 November in Paris, before coming under the hammer on 9 November at Artcurial in Paris.

« La Joconde ! Set against a rugged landscape, it exudes mystery. It is much more than a painting, it is a distillation of Western art. Beautiful and gentle, the Mona Lisa is also the embodiment of happiness. The excitement will be intense in Paris on 9 November when Artcurial holds up this fascinating version, arguably the finest known example to date. » – Matthieu Fournier Auctioneer, Director of Old Masters & 19th Century Art, Artcurial

The legend

« Here then is the most famous painting in the world, of a mysterious greatness born of more than simple genius. » André Malraux.

The appeal of the Mona Lisa remains as strong today, both for the public, who continue to make their way to the Louvre, as well as artists who, century after century, take inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci, whether in a respectful or iconoclastic manner, but always with unfailing fidelity!

Accounts from the 16th and 17th century reveal a unanimous admiration for this sensitive depiction of nature and life and for the accomplished, subtle and graceful style that characterises the inventor of sfumato.

Artists could only admire such technical and aesthetic qualities that provoked covetousness amongst the greatest collectors : a situation that encouraged copies of the beautiful Italian female to flourish. This was indeed the case at the beginning of the 17th century, the period when our example was made. Painted on a fine oak panel, the Mona Lisa is faithful to the original in all elements, while the two columns of the loggia either side of where the model is seated are shown more clearly however. The painter has been particularly careful to depict the skin tones of the hands and face with great delicacy, without losing all sense of his own style.

The strokes are apparent with subtle impasto touches emphasising the shape of the face, around the eyes, highlighting the chin, the neckline and finger joints. The folds in the sleeves as well as the rocky landscape in the background are depicted in a graphic style.

These particular stylistic characteristics, along with the use of oak as the support, enable the execution of this version to be dated around 1600. Its faithfulness to the original and the intelligence of the reproduction suggest that the artist may have had access to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and been able to examine it carefully. It seems reasonable to imagine that this skilfully painted and sensitive copy could have been painted in the same environment as the Mona Lisa, that had been acquired by François I: at Fontainebleau itself, where, under the reign of Henri IV, talented artists from the so-called second school of Fontainebleau gravitated.










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