Da Vinci’s famous painting, the Mona Lisa, may be the first attempt at a 3D painting ever, according to two visual scientists. The Mona Lisa, which was completed nearly 500 years ago in the year 1517, is currently on display at the Lourve.
In 2012, it was discovered that a copy of the Mona Lisa was in fact a sister painting done at the same time as the original, possibly by a student of Da Vinci. The Mona Lisa “copy” had a layer of black paint on it that, when removed during a restoration, revealed details underneath that matched that of Da Vinci’s painting.
“When I first perceived the two paintings side by side, it was very obvious for me that there is a very small but evident difference in perspectives,” said Claus-Christian Carbon of the University of Bamberg in Germany. Along with Vera Hesslinger of Germany’s University of Mainz, Carbon did a psychological assessment of the perspective of both paintings to determine from the point of view of the model for the Mona Lisa.
“This is particularly clear if you observe the chair on which La Gioconda sits: In the Prado version, you can still see the end of the end corner of the chair at the background of the painting, which you cannot see in the Louvre version, because the painter of the Prado version looked at the’ Mona Lisa’ more from the left than the painter of the Louvre version,” said Carbon to Live Science. With their results, the paintings viewed together create a 3D effect of sorts.
Although the two scientists do not have final proof that it was intended to be a 3D painting, they cite evidence in inventory lists that hint at the existence of two paintings of the Mona Lisa on Da Vinci’s property at the same time.
Despite this, some argue that other small details dispute the theory. “Most in contradiction with this notion is the fact that these disparities are largely oriented vertically, and not horizontally as would be required to replicate the left and right eye views,” said Martin Arguin of the University of Montreal. “All the landmark location changes are of the same size. This would not be so in an adequate stereoscopic image since disparities should vary according to relief (i.e. distance from the observer).”
Watch a video below showing the two Mona Lisa paintings morphed together. What do you think? Was the Mona Lisa the first 3D painting?