The Subject of the Mona Lisa’s Gaze
Updated: Aug 23, 2018
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Louvre and the gallery that houses the Mona Lisa. This famous Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece of Lisa Gherardini the wife of wealthy Florence silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, resides in a half basketball court sized gallery deep in the inner sanctum of the world’s largest museum. The Louvre houses more than 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art in nearly 15 acres of gallery space.
As the second most visited museum in the world the Louvre averages 15,000 visitors per day, 65% of whom are foreign tourists. Due to the enormity of the museum and the size and complexity of navigating the matrix of halls, rooms and galleries; visitors are given a map upon entering with directions to the “must see” exhibits. The Mona Lisa is at the top of this list as the museum’s most popular attraction.
The portrait itself is about the size of a 36 inch flat screen television. It is displayed on a free standing wall in the middle of the gallery. Entering the room, one must walk around the wall to view the painting. Due to the security ropes, the closest you can get to the painting is fifteen feet, still close enough to appreciate her enigmatic smile and eyes.
The gallery is usually packed with visitors who take time to view the masterpiece from every possible angle.
While a few other paintings are displayed around the perimeter of the room, one other significant work of art also hangs in this gallery. This other “masterpiece” is impossible to miss and is in fact, the object of the gazing Mona Lisa.
Directly across from da Vinci’s famous Madonna is displayed Paolo Veronese’s The Wedding Feast at Cana. In contrast to the Mona Lisa, this billboard sized depiction of the setting in which Jesus Christ performs his first miracle, converting water to wine, is the largest canvass in the Louvre’s collection. It covers the entire wall of the gallery occupying a space of more than 80 square yards.
While the beautiful, captivating and famous Mona Lisa is the reason throngs of people from all over the world visit her gallery, it’s hardly a coincidence that the subject of her gaze is a watershed event in the history of the world in which Jesus’ own mother Mary figures so prominently.
I find it interesting that while everyone travels to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, the object of the gaze of one of man’s masterpieces from the art world is a panoramic depiction of God’s Son.
2 Chronicles 16:9a
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those who hearts are fully committed to him.”