Updated: Dec 9, 2021
"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."
Leonardo da Vinci was many things: a painter, an architect, an engineer, a theatrical producer, and wildly popular in Renaissance-era Italy. He is among the most influential artists in history, having left a significant legacy not only in the realm of art but science as well.
Although only a few of Da Vinci’s paintings and sculptures survive, two of his extant works are among the world’s most well-known and admired paintings. They are "The Last Supper" and "Mona Lisa".
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci
You could write an entire book just about the conspiracy theories relating to Leonardo Da Vinci and his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. A recently found theory is worthy of the Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown's 2003 bestseller). It came to light by Pavel Floresco. Despite the painting being known widely as a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, this masterpiece, as declared by Floresco, represents the mother of Leonardo Da Vinci, Caterina, seen as a model of maternity and femininity.
How can we prove this theory? It is a bit complicated, so I am going to explain it to you step by step. Firstly, we have to use an alpha-numeric method of writing the numbers and the letters of the Italian alphabet.
It should be like this:
A = 1 B = 2 C=3 D = 4 E = 5 F = 6 G = 7 H = 8 I = 9 L = 10 M = 11 N = 12 O = 13
P = 14 Q = 15 R = 16 S = 17 T = 18 U = 19 V = 20 Z = 21
Floresco then reduced the names “Mona Lisa” and “Caterina” into numbers, and added them up. For “Mona Lisa,” the addition looks like this:
MONA LISA = 11 + 13 + 12 + 1 + 10 + 9 + 17 + 1 = 74
He then took the two numbers in “74,” and added those up:
7 + 4 = 11
At last, he took the two digits of the resulting “11” and added them up yet again, revealing the secret number 2 hidden in the name Mona Lisa:
1 + 1 = 2
While repeating the same procedure with the name of Leonardo’s mother, “Caterina”, he chillingly found out that you get the same result:
CATERINA = 3 + 1 + 18 + 5 + 16 + 9 + 12 + 1 = 65
6 + 5 = 11
1 + 1 = 2
Of course, the name “Mona Lisa” is a nickname derived from Vasari and the painting’s first owner referred to it as La Gioconda. But Pavel Floresco did not stop at this and offered more proof to this theory. To illustrate the significance of the number 2 in the canvas, Floresco broke down the symbolism of the painting. We can see 2 columns in the background, a road in the landscape in the shape of the number 2, and a hand flipping the number 2. (She even has 2 eyes and 2 nostrils!)
But there still is more proof to look at. Floresco also showed that the 2010 discovery - which argued that we could see the letters “LV” and “CE” concealed in the Mona Lisa's eyes - could also be explained. Those initials, too, yield up to the all-important number 2.
LVCE = 10 + 20 + 3 + 5 = 38
3 + 8 = 11
1 + 1 = 2
While there are quite a number of famous theories and stories about the painting, including the classic ‘is she smiling or frowning,’ and the tale of the Louvre heist, this is one of the incredibly interesting lesser-known theories in circulation about the work. Whilst their legitimacy is unknown, the theories help bring out new and refreshing perspectives to the work.
How deep does this theory go? If you find out, it might be wise 2 keep it 2 yourself!