On the 'Isleworth Mona Lisa' - Kemp speaks

October 1 2012

Image of On the 'Isleworth Mona Lisa' - Kemp speaks

Picture: TAN

If you haven't already seen it, Leonardo scholar Professor Martin Kemp has written a much-needed take down on the 'Iselworth Mona Lisa'. Money quote:

The book claims that none of the evidence of scientific examination indicates that the Isleworth picture is not by Leonardo. Nor does it show that it is not by Raphael. Even this ineffectual claim, with its double negative, is not justified. The infrared reflectogram and X-ray published on p. 253 do not reveal any of the characteristics of Leonardo’s preparatory methods. Leonardo, as the infrared images of the Louvre painting show, was an inveterate fiddler with his compositions even once he had begin to work on the primed surfaces of his panels. The images of the Isleworth canvas have the dull monotony that would be expected of a copy.

He also highlights the growing over-use of 'technical evidence', and how it alone seems to carry an unimpeachably convicing aura:

I see lots of dossiers of “scientific evidence” attached to purported Leonardos. It often seems enough to have the texts with the data, diagrams and images to “prove” the authenticity, whether or not the they actually tell us anything that actively supports Leonardo’s authorship.

Sadly, none of this will feature in the press. The story has had its splash, the media caravan has moved on, and the public will remain as confused as ever.

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