May 20, 2019
Book uncovers the classical text describing Mona Lisa painting and explains exactly who the woman in the painting is and why she is smiling
Ron Piccirillo, a New York-based graphic artist and painter, today released his debut memoir: Solving Mona Lisa, available on Amazon.com in paperback and eBook. Released in tandem with Leonardo da Vinci’s 500th Anniversary, the memoir uncovers new discoveries and answers mysteries that lie within the world’s most famous Renaissance art.
Focused mostly on Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Piccirillo details in his book how he discovered classical text that came before Da Vinci’s art and identifies the woman in the picture along with the scene depicted in the painting. The classical text also explains the woman’s smile, which is a significant trait of the character in the written story. The text, which existed many years before the Renaissance period, also describes other famous paintings such as Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera—a painting that has puzzled scholars for centuries.
“In 2011, I discovered hidden images of animal heads in Mona Lisa and many other Renaissance paintings. That sparked my interest in Leonardo’s work, so I searched for an explanation to the hidden imagery. The answers led to something completely unexpected, which ultimately led to my memoir: Solving Mona Lisa. The book reveals everything I discovered and reveals how the greatest masterworks of Western art had added more layers of meaning than experts had realized.”
Piccirillo’s discoveries demonstrate that a specific type of optical illusion that Da Vinci was known to invent had been used by many Renaissance artists to hide secret images in their art. Piccirillo’s memoir demonstrates the secret images in detail and explains how the images appear many years before experts believed Da Vinci’s optical illusion technique was put into practice, and how experts understandably failed to see them hidden within many famous works of art, including Michelangelo’s ceiling and wall frescos in the Sistine Chapel.
“The reality is that these discoveries open the door to new meanings, which will completely change our understanding of some of the most famous works of art in history. The revelation that there is even more imagery than is apparent on the surface should not be a surprise, but comes as a shock that it hasn’t been noticed earlier,” according to Piccirillo.
The book identifies a range of the secret images depicted in various works of art—some that are simple to see and others that are more difficult. In addition to ambiguous illusions, there are a significant number of anamorphic (or distorted) examples that appear only when viewed from a specific angle. Piccirillo explains how Da Vinci wrote instructions on how to view the images. According to Da Vinci’s notebooks, you will not understand the picture well if you do not look at the painting from the correct angle. The specific passage on how to view Renaissance art reads:
"Supposing a b to be the picture and d to be the light, I say that if you place yourself between c and e you will not understand the picture well and particularly if it is done in oils, or still more if it is varnished, because it will be lustrous and somewhat of the nature of a mirror. And for this reason the nearer you go towards the point c, the less you will see, because the rays of light falling from the window on the picture are reflected to that point. But if you place yourself between e and d you will get a good view of it, and the more so as you approach the point d, because that spot is least exposed to these reflected rays of light."
“So, observing these Renaissance paintings from the “d-point” view is essential and part of the process,” added Piccirillo. “Through Leonardo’s technique, optical illusions reveal hidden images either meant to be discovered or forever hidden. My book provides examples and evidence to show how deeper meaning exists within some of the most famous artwork in history.”
Piccirillo also makes the following unique observations and discoveries in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, identifying hidden optical illusions of the faces of creatures that also tie back to classical writings.
According to Piccirillo, “On the perimeter of the chapel ceiling are 12 main figures that each reveal the profiles of beastlike heads or creatures. Some are more difficult to see than others. One of the easier illusions to see takes place in The Cumean Sibyl panel overlooking the God Creates Eve panel. From the anamorphic angle, one can see the profile of a creature of some sort with a bandaged up nose, smirking as a villain might. Each pair of Putti—the smaller stone characters that seem to be holding onto the structure panels—help create the illusion as if the profiles are leaning over a ledge and looking ‘down’ onto the Genesis scenes painted along the center of the ceiling.”
Piccirillo identifies other profiles around the perimeter including two knights, an old bearded man, and a hooded old man. In addition, an elephant head can be seen in the panel entitled The Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden.
Hidden subjects in Renaissance paintings have been noted throughout time. Piccirillo’s findings demonstrate that there is still a lot more to learn from these famous works of art and the classical texts the artists depicted.
About Ron Piccirillo:
Piccirillo lives in Rochester, NY and has worked as a graphic designer for nearly the last 20 years. He has dedicated the last eight years of his life to writing this memoir and studying techniques of the masters associated with the periods in art about which he is most interested. These masters include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet. For more information on him and his findings, visit .
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