If Mona Lisa doesn’t look happy to you, that might be because of your own mental state, according to scientists at the University of California, San Francisco.
Our emotions change our perceptions of the world around us, they say, and that includes works of art. “If you see the Mona Lisa after you have just had a screaming fight with your husband, you’re going to see [the painting] differently,” Erika Siegel, one of the researchers, told. “But if you’re having the time of your life at the Louvre, you’re going to see the enigmatic smile.”
The study is based on the theory that the brain is a predictive organ that looks to past experiences to know what to expect from the future. In Siegel’s experiment, she showed 43 participants a series of faces, with two different images appearing before each eye. Everyone has a dominant eye, so faces shown to the non-dominant eye only register subconsciously.
There’s also a theory that the Mona Lisa is smiling because she has syphilis.
Meanwhile, a new study reported in Milenio found that a second copy of the painting at the Prado, thought to have been painted by the Spanish artist Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina, includes hidden Spanish symbols, such as the face of a Moor and Catalan-style architecture, in the background.