Sunday, November 25, 2007

mona lisa smile

After Mona Lisa, scientist strips down Leonardo's 'Lady with Ermine'

KRAKOW, Poland (AFP) ― After unlocking the secrets of the Mona Lisa, a French scientist has turned his all-seeing "multispectral" camera on a lesser-known Leonardo da Vinci muse in Poland: the "Lady with an Ermine."

Engineer and inventor Pascal Cotte virtually strips away centuries of sometimes sloppy restoration work to provide a digital image of a painting as it may have left the artist's studio -- an abiding question among art historians and art lovers about such masterpieces.

Cotte was called in by the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow in southern Poland, which is home to a collection built up over the centuries by the eponymous Polish princely family.

His unique 240-megapixel camera uncovers the true colours of a painting, literally: Cotte found that the late 15th century wood-panel portrait was not painted on the black background visible today.

"The background was deep blue, very lightly shaded with earth, and probably an azurite mixed with earth," Cotte told AFP.

"It's far more beautiful than we thought," said French art historian Jacques Franck, a da Vinci expert who worked alongside Cotte.

"Here we have a Leonardo da Vinci which has been masked by bad restoration work and which as a result has perhaps been seen as less important than it really is," Franck said.

The "Lady with an Ermine," bought by the Czartoryski family in Italy in 1798, was among the works looted by the invading Germans in 1939. It was hung in the office of the Nazi governor Hans Frank, who then decamped with the portrait when the Germans fled in January 1945.

The painting was discovered by US troops at Frank's villa in Bavaria and later returned to Poland.

Though a major piece in the Czartoryski collection, nagging doubts persisted over how much of "Lady with an Ermine" was da Vinci's own hand and how much was that of his assistants.

Cotte's conclusion, based on a virtual version he built as close as possible to the original, suggests it is nearly 100 percent da Vinci's handiwork.

"We haven't learned anything new that will fundamentally alter our understanding of this work," said Anna Grochowska-Angelus, the Czartoryski Museum's chief restorer.

But Cotte's scan confirmed the existence of fingerprints which had fuelled Polish experts' long-held belief that the majority of the work was da Vinci's, she said.

Cotte, who aims to help historians build up a global archive of digital "originals," has already gazed behind the layers of around 500 paintings, including works by Brueghel, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

He recently took part in an international study of what is arguably the world's most famous painting, da Vinci's Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre museum in Paris.

He revealed that her trademark enigmatic smile was originally wider, and that he also had eyelashes, eyebrows and a blanket on her knees.

Cotte's camera gives insight into colours, pigments and brush-strokes underneath a weathered surface.

"It enables us to break down the light spectrum three levels into the pictorial layer, from the ultraviolet to the infrared, and from the visible to the invisible," he explained.

"Multispectral photography provides us with knowledge of the stratification of the successive layers painted by Leonardo and restorers, which enables historical understanding of the way the work was constructed and of subsequent actions," he said.

In the "Lady with an Ermine," he discovered hidden traces under the ermine's left paw and muzzle.

Franck and Cotte believe da Vinci may originally have painted the ferret-like animal lower down the portrait of the woman thought to be Cecilia Gallerani, who was the mistress of the Duke Lodovico Sforza of Milan.

Experts suggest that the ermine, an apparent allusion to the duke, was originally Mona Lisa Smile
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Mona Lisa Smile

Directed by Mike Newell
Produced by Joe Roth
Starring Julia Roberts
Kirsten Dunst
Julia Stiles
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Ginnifer Goodwin
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) December 19, 2003
Running time 117 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $65,000,000
IMDb profile
Mona Lisa Smile is a 2003 American film that was produced by Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures, directed by Mike Newell, written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, and starring Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst, and Julia Stiles. The title is a reference to the Mona Lisa, the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and the song of the same name, originally performed by Nat King Cole, which was covered by Seal for the movie. The film is a loose adaptation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a novel by Muriel Spark, and the title also references that text.

1 Box office performance
2 Synopsis
3 Reaction from Wellesley alumnae
4 Campus Controversy
5 Trivia
6 Cast
7 External links

[edit] Box office performance
Costs (approximate):
Production: $65,000,000
Marketing: $25,000,000
United States: $63,860,942
Worldwide (excluding US): $76,972,150

[edit] Synopsis
Mona Lisa Smile tells the story of a feminist teacher who studied at UCLA graduate school and left as a first-year teacher from "Oakland State" University (thought to be a fictionalized University of California, Berkeley), leaves her boyfriend behind in Los Angeles, California in 1953, to teach at Wellesley College, a conservative women's private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, United States.

Watson tries to open her students' minds to their freedom to do whatever they want with their lives. She encourages her students to believe in themselves, to study to become career professionals, and to improve their economic futures. She uses her art teachings as a vehicle to put across her opinion to the young women; that her students needn't conform to stereotypes of women made by society, or the roles made for them by society, as women born to become housewives and mothers. She felt that women could do more things in life than solely adopt the roles of wives and mothers. In one scene of the movie, she shows her students four newspaper ads, and asks them to question what the future will think of the idea that women are born into the roles of wives and mothers.

Watson's ideas and ways of teaching are contrary to methods deemed acceptable by the school's directors; conservative women who believe firmly that Watson should not use her class to express her points of views or befriend students, and should stick only to teaching art. Watson is warned that she could be fired if she continues to interact with students as she has been doing.

Undaunted, Watson becomes stronger in her speeches about feminism and the future of women. She is a firm believer that the outlook of women in society needed to be changed if women were to achieve better futures, and that she needed to instill a spirit of change among her students.

Watson chooses to leave after the one year but, as she is leaving the campus for the last time, her students run after her car, to show their affection and to thank her for her lessons. Many people have noticed the film's similarity to Dead Poets Society even going so far as to refer to it as "the feminist Dead Poets Society" or "Dead Poets Society with girls" [1]. It was released on VHS and DVD on July of 2004.

[edit] Reaction from Wellesley alumnae
In a message to Wellesley alumnae concerning the film, Wellesley College president Diana Chapman Walsh expressed some degree of regret concerning the distressed reactions of some Wellesley alumnae to the film. Many alumnae who attended Wellesley during the 1950s felt that the film's portrayal of Wellesley as a stodgy, conservative college was inaccurate.

[edit] Campus Controversy
This article or section appears to contradict itself. Please help fix this problem.

During the filming of "Mona Lisa Smile", the Wellesley College campus broke into controversy surrounding the casting of student extras. The use of the phrase "not too tan" in a casting call for current Wellesley students sparked a fear that casting directors were using race to discriminate against potential extras. Producers claimed that they were merely stressing the importance of finding women that had the "look of 1953", but later their response to the growing concern was that the film could not reflect the current Wellesley demographic, and had to be "accurate" to the period.

Students presented their concerns to president, Diana Chapman Walsh to no avail, and began a campus-wide guerrilla campaign entitled "Too Tan for Mona Lisa Smiles", with a photo roster of African-American students denied the chance to participate in the film as student extras.

Student MAC, Jenna O. Bond-Louden, discovered that the film overrepresented the Asian student population, which was believed to be approximately 3 in 1953 (as the "Asian" ethnic group is not listed in the college's records), and significantly underrepresented African-Americans: only one of the about 200 extras were African-American in the entire film (although there were 12 African-American students enrolled, in a total student population of 1685).

The controversy spilled over into the local media, and producers considered a compromise would be hiring willing minority students to act as production assistants. The college released a press statement highlighting the realities of Wellesley in 1953, and defending their decision to allow the film to shoot on campus. When the film's lead cast was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, a select group of African-American students were allowed to attend the show's taping, including the "Too Tan for Mona Lisa Smiles" leader. The film's casting was never altered to accurately reflect the racial diversity of 1953; producers now claim they were not interested in making a "documentary," and accuracy was not necessary.

Students also protested the lack of concern by the studio for their ability to attend classes as normal with the blocking of pathways, streets, and buildings during the 8 days of shooting the film. Producers initially tried to adhere to the class schedule by not shooting in open areas immediately before and after classes, but that lasted only a short while. Student extras frustrated professors by missing class and important exams, and the entire campus began to speak out against the film's presence. The film was so intrusive to the quiet campus, that the board of trustees deemed that Wellesley College will never again open its doors to a film studio[citation needed].

[edit] Trivia
Trivia sections are discouraged under Wikipedia guidelines.
The article could be improved by integrating relevant items and removing inappropriate ones.

The classroom in which Julia Roberts teaches is in fact a Chemistry classroom in Columbia University's Havemeyer Hall, Havemeyer 309.
One of the soundtracks, Istanbul (Not Constantinople), was a favorite song of 1950's about the name change of Turkish city, Istanbul.
The office of Professor Bill Dunbar (played by actor Dominic West) is actually the Wellesley College quad; a grouping of four dormitories on the campus.
Some of the exteriors for Wellesley College and Harvard were, in fact, shot in the same courtyard at Yale's Silliman College.


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