Art by some of the most famous painters in history, such as Leonardo DaVinci (who painted, among other things, the Mona Lisa) is often described in writings by their contemporaries. When the paintings that have been written about can no longer be found, art historians begin searching frantically for the missing artwork. Now they have authenticated a DaVinci painting that has been missing for centuries, and they think they’ve found another one, hidden behind a wall.
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Researchers now know who she was, and they know that Leonardo da Vinci painted her portrait to commemorate the birth of her second son. But what they don’t know is how he did it, because on close examination, there seem to be no brushstrokes. Could it have been an earlier photograph, as the Shroud of Turin is suspected of being?

Not even the most sophisticated modern analysis available to art historians has revealed the secret of how Leonardo could have painted with brush strokes so fine that they still cannot be detected. Researcher John Taylor was amazed by the lack of brush strokes on the painting, even he examined it with the most sophisticated imaging equipment available.
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Why have we been fascinated for so many years by Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile? It may be due to random noise in our brain.

Philip Cohen reports in New Scientist that Christopher Tyler and Leonid Kontsevich manipulated a computer image of the painting by adding random visual “noise” (like the “snow” seen on a badly tuned TV). They then asked 12 people if they thought this Mona Lisa was sad or happy.
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The Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1500s, is famous for her mysterious smile. We’re fascinated by the smile because it disappears when it’s looked at directly, says Margaret Livingstone of Harvard University. It’s only apparent when we look at other parts of the painting, because of the way the human eye processes visual information.

The eye has two types of vision, foveal and peripheral. Foveal, or direct vision, is picks up detail but is less able to pick up shadows. “The elusive quality of the Mona Lisa’s smile can be explained by the fact that her smile is almost entirely in low spatial frequencies, and so is seen best by your peripheral vision,” Livingstone says. The more a person stares straight ahead, the less useful their peripheral vision is. read more