Our project Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling represents a dual scientific investigation.
Firstly, it examines the work of Vasari, as described in the Lives of the Artists, in light of the the capacities of emerging technologies. This examination disproves Vasari theories in regard to the identity of the Mona Lisa by using basic steps of the scientific method.
We examine presented hypothesis of Rina de Firenze, noted author and the work of Dr. Lillian Schwartz.
Rina de Firenze in her book The Mystery of the Mona Lisa states that Leonardo painted his mother Caterina in the portrait of the Mona Lisa. She discounts the work of Vasari by saying he made many silly mistakes. The portrait of the Mona Lisa was described as having eyebrows and two nostrils. Rina's contention is he was describing another painting and not the Mona Lisa. In Rina's book she describes Caterina as having blue green eyes.
Eye witness accounts from patrons of the Louvre Museum state that the Mona Lisa's eyes are hazel or brown. Why would Leonardo paint his mother with the wrong eye color?
Dr. Lillian Schwartz, a computer graphics pioneer used computer technology available at Bell Labs to juxtapose the portrait of Leonardo with that of the Mona Lisa. When the images were superimposed, the facial features aligned perfectly. My students created the morphing sequence to visualize Lillian's theory.
By applying rigorous critical thinking evaluation standards to our hypothesis generation, we conclude that Leonardo da Vinci himself served as the model for the portrait, in light of the available evidence. This conclusion was reached by weighing contradictory evidence.
Secondly, our project features orginal da Vinci music which is an Internet exclusive. It was unearthed by my student research team, transcribed by a colleague and digitized by my students.
We are confident that this project fits nicely within the parameters of scientific inquiry.
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