Mona Lisa in the Nude

atkins-bookshelf-triviaEach year, more than 6 million people visit the Louvre in Paris to capture a glimpse of the mysterious and mesmerizing Mona Lisa, the most famous and most valuable painting in the world, painted by the legendary Leonardo da Vinci. However, there is another version of the Mona Lisa, that is a bit more — shall we say, titillating — that the curators of the Louvre do not want you to see it. That painting, by a painter connected to Leonardo, depicts the enigmatic Mona Lisa in the nude. Yes, you read that correctly — Mona Lisa sans her flowing ornate robes, baring her porcelain-like, perfectly rounded breasts to all those who come to leer — ahem, admire her beauty. The painting, Monna Vanna, is a parody of the famous work by Leonardo. The Monna Vanna was painted by Salai (Born: Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno), an Italian artist that began as a pupil, servant, and model for Leonardo from 1490 (Salai was then ten years old)  to 1518. Salai (translated literally means “the little unclean one” more figuratively, it means “the devil”) certainly earned his nickname by being the Oscar Wilde of the Renaissance art scene. Although he lived with Leonardo for almost three decades, Salai gave him more than his share of aggravation. In his notebooks, Leonardo describes Salai in terms fit for a U.S. politician: “ladro, bugiardo, ostinato, ghiotto” (translated: “a thief, a liar, obstinate, and a glutton”). Salai was not only a very accomplished painter, but he was popular as a model; he was the model for some of Leonardo’s famous paintings, Bacchus (very appropriate, wouldn’t you say?) and St. John the Baptist (now that one’s a bit of a stretch). When asked why he painted the Mona Lisa without clothes, the impish Salai replied, “The devil made me do it.”

See the Monna Vanna here.

Read related posts: Most Expensive Painting in the World
Most Expensive Book in the World
Most Expensive American Book

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