Many people have described this as one of history’s most mysterious paintings. They have described the smile on this woman’s face as “enigmatic” and “curious” and highly erotic. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
As you know, Florence, where Da Vinci painted this, was in a very long and intense struggle with Sienna, a nearby city that also intended to rule all Italy. The military conflict widened as both independent cities created breeding programs to produce women with mental powers. Florence won this corsa del cervello (literally, the brain race) in the person of Mona Lisa, pictured here, right before she flattened Sienna with a shattering blast of telekinetic power.
Nothing “enigmatic”, “curious” or erotic about that.
Actual details available at Wikipedia, but yes, it’s Mona Lisa, painted circa 1503-1506.
As always, if you’ve done one of these, let me know via Twitter (@markarayner) or via email: markarayner (at) gmail.com.