The MONA LISA , painted in the 16th century by Leonardo da Vinci, is perhaps the most famous painting in history. It has been studied and interpreted by experts and scholars. It has been stolen and found, damaged and repaired, but the smile remains. Some say the smile is one of innocence and contentment, others say it is one of mystery, evoking a state of sexual excitement and longing to be loved.
Today the painting, only measuring 30 in. x 21 in., hangs on a wall in the Muse’e du Louvre, in Paris, France. It is owned by the French government. In the early 1960’s , the MONA LISA was valued at $100 million by some insurance agency. By today standards, that is equal to approximately $700 million due to inflation.
I started to paint a portrait of a fishermen in 1997.I half-completed it, framed it, and put it up for sale in my studio. I became intrigued by the distinct smirk on the face. Thinking of the popularity of the MONA LISA smile, I labeled it ,NOT FOR SALE, and added it to my own private art collection.
A few years later I removed the painting from storage with the intention of touching it up. In the original portrait, the nose was a bit crooked, the eyes were popped and he had no beard. I had a student assistant working with me in-studio that summer. Observing her keen sense of creativity and youthful ideas, I gave her the freedom one day when I was away from the studio, to fix the man’s face. Upon my return the next day, she greeted me with “Look what I have done”. To me, the addition of a beard and the down sizing of the mouth, had added a more pronounced smirk to the portrait. I returned it to storage.
Then in 2009 I took it out again, this time determined to finish it and finally name it. I ended up re-doing the eyes, trimming the beard, adding the string to the sou’ wester and adding the moose antler buttons. It was finally finished. I end up calling it , A SMIRK FOR MONA OR LISA.
I interpret this smirk as a deceitful grin, a self-satisfying, offensive foolish smile. ’Get that smirk of your face’, I am sure you have heard the phrase. So my artwork, A SMIRK FOR MONA OR LISA, is not that complicated, when it comes to the meaning of the piece itself. The fisherman in the portrait is torn between two women, MONA and LISA.