Prados’s Mona Lisa

In January 2012 Museo del Prado in Madrid announced that it had almost fully restored a copy of La Gioconda by a pupil of Leonardo, very possibly painted alongside the master. The copy gives a better indication of what the portrait looked like at the time, as the varnish covering the original is cracked and yellowed with age.

Madrid, 1:00 pm. I enter the Prado museum in search of an specific  painting. I walk along corridors to Room 49. At its centre the recently restored copy of La Gioconda surrounded by an exited croud. The right hand is larger, whispers a French expert lady, and the brows, lost on Leonardo’s version after a poorly done restauration. For a moment I feel as if I were at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

La Gioconda’s copy is framed by golden columns, without glass panels and at a short distance. The young woman holds her gaze with her hands crossed over her lap, the same pose as the master’s, different quality in her look. It’s no wonder since Leonardo’s Gioconda, surrounded by legends and mystery, is the most famous lady  in history.

I observe the background that lightens the composition and places this Gioconda of mahogany curls in front of a gallery open to mountains and blue lakes, with the subtlety of the sfumato, the technique perfected by Leonardo. Said background is undoubtedly what attracts me most to this privileged copy. How wonderful to have discovered it after centuries under a black layer.

Two photographs illustrate the development of the copy, parallel to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. What I wouldn’t give to have been witness to this birth. To listen to the murmurs of brushes over panels, to be enveloped in that universe of pigments and oils, to celebrate each perfect stroke of an unreachable Leonardo. I don’t know if that apprentice ever dreamed of such fame. What I do know is that the Prado’s Mona Lisa is a silent witness to the geniality of the Master Leonardo.

The restored copy of La Gioconda in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The work is believed to have been made by an apprentice of Leonardo’s, possibly at the same time as the original. c.1503-16.

La Gioconda. Leonardo da Vinci. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Prados’s copy of La Gioconda, by a Da Vinci’s  pupil.

Prados’s La Gioconda, detail, by a Da Vinci’s  pupil. La Gioconda (detail). Leonardo da Vinci. Musée du Louvre, Paris

Prado’s La Gioconda (copy) before and after restauration.

La Gioconda, Taller de LeonardoMuseo del Prado. Madrid. Till March 13th  2012. Then it will join an exhibition at the Musée du Luvre in Paris

Nightmare in japan

I crawl out of bed after a sleepless night. A stomach ache  prevented me from sleeping. The few moments of unconsciousness were plagued with bad dreams and anxieties. I drink a steaming cup as I seat in front of a screen filled with destroyed buildings, stations in fire and water dragging everything away. An earthquake measuring 8.9 hit Japan in the morning, creating a wave that literally swept away the northeast coast. Nature punishes once again this earth. The anguish for my friends is entrenched in my stomach. I wonder if last night I was not hearing their cries. I pray for them and for all the victims’ families.

Carnival on the course

Oitavos Golf course, 8:30 am. I picked up my card wrapped in a magic cloak and a Venetian mask. Downstairs there were buggies decorated with multicolored balloons, an unusual image in a sport with such a strict etiquette.  I was greeted by a clown while an Indian lady and a Scarlet O’Hara organized the tee offs. I approach an orangutan, a lady-sun, a sixties girl, a punk and even a Gaddafi. What an imagination the Burners and their friends showed in their March tournament… Read More

Dreaming with the Oscar’s

Everything is ready for the big party on Sunday. A handful of players try to remain calm in the whirlwind that changed his life as candidates. Ten men check every morning buttons, vests and phrases of gratitude. Ten women try taffeta and silks and practice their walk on the most envied carpet in the world. Some repeat experience and statuettes. All are eager to discover his name in a sealed envelope. Read more

Impresionist gardens

I run across an ice labyrinth. My heart explodes in my temples. The wind cuts my nude hands while I cross the lonely corridors. After a while, I find a door which opens into a room with wall covered in windows. I open the first one and discover a lush orchard over a pond. Branches tinge the liquid mirror with green. The breeze rocks spikes and shrubs with its warm arms and restores my breathless palate. Read More…

Paul Cezanne. L’estanque dans Jas de Bouffan, c. 1874

Dreaming is for free

-I’ve got the perfect dress for the MCK cocktail party.

-I hope you’re not thinking of wearing the same old boring grey dress. For once we get invited to go to New York.

-Not at all. I’m wearing a knee high pale pink ruffle dress, so very appropriate given the MoMa’s avant garde style. Its Karl Lagerfield’s read of a Coco design that looks more than a dress a sculpture. Read more…


Dear Colin

I like calling you Colin, no surname, just the first name, like that of great men. I don’t know if you remember me. We met 20 years ago in a theater’s pit. You were playing the role of Valmont and I, the role of a young impressionable girl carrying pop corn. Since then encounters and disagreements before the TV and the big screen. Always in the dark, in the intimacy of silence. Read more…

Kawabata’s room

As I was telling you, I stayed at Hiragiya Ryokan, one of the oldest in Kyoto. The building is all wood and washi paper panels that slid soundlessly. The room had a sitting area and a private cedar bathroom. One of the walls looked out to the inner garden. The same garden Kawabata contemplated from the room next door. All the appliances had been covered with sewn cloth so as not to break the harmony. You can’t imagine the feeling of peace that it created. After relaxing in the ofuro, the traditional Japanese bath tub, you put on the yukata and waited for dinner. Afterwards they cleared the table and laid out the futon in it’s place. Read more

Inner garden

Testino’s Four Seasons

– Fall –

Twilight evenings, currents of silk. The soul is envelopped with each bell chime. Sighs transmuted into wails. Memories that lie in wait behind every page. Faces protected by crowns of dry twigs. Around them the leaves swirl in dreamy spirals. Earth, wind, rain. Time in abeyance. The past hits us with an arrow of melancholy. Read more

Sasha Pivovarova. London 2007

Postcards from Tokyo

Tokyo is awesome. I’m crazy busy with classes and sightseeing. This year’s group is super fun. There’s a german kid, italians, koreans, even a guy from Sudan who’s studying in Aberdeen! Despite the killer heat and humidity we’re ticking all the to-go places in my list. Next time though I’m coming in the winter. I’m sending pictures of the sight from my room, the fireworks and of the matsuri we went to yesterday. Read More…..

Tokyo skyline from Shinagawa

Tea for two

Five in the afternoon. We fall on the small armchair at the Foyer, facing a pale green striped china teacup. We leave behind the frantic running, the suitcases and the planes. The first warm sip caresses the palate and soothes the stomach, neglected since morning. The second clears the temples; the third returns us to heaven. One hundred orchids at the centre, columns and screens, bathed in the colours of the 20’s.    Read more...


Montreaux. Small town on the shore of Lake Leman. Four thousand souls within the Stravinsky Auditorium. Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang share genius and two century old sounds. Montreaux. Lake, mountain, music…paradise. Read more


1945. A young Glenn Gould practices on his mother’s piano, newly woken and facing a cup of tea, wearing a flannel robe. His hands caress the keys with voices that hum a partita. By his side his loyal friend lifts his ears on a scale and poses his heads on his paws on the tonic. Every once in a while he rises and peers through the open window over Toronto’s beach. Music streams forth from each of his pores enamored with the great master Johann Sebastian Bach.   Read more

Aloha LOST

Rustles in the jungle. A man walks wearily with a hand holding his crimson tainted side. His face twists in pain. A few more steps and he let himself fall on the grass over the fertile land that changed his life forever. He closes his eyes for an instant. A golden retriever barks and approaches. Vincent licks his battered face and lies by him. His eyes remember in satisfaction and close under the intense tropical light. Eyes, lights, dreams. The End of a story, the beginning of a memory.     Read more…

Augusta. Four days during which the planet’s golf elite comes together in an exuberant golf course, one of the most prestigious in America. The fairways surrounded by magnolias and old elms, the bridges over quiet waters and the stands brimming with excitement before Tiger’s reappearance after five months away from the greens. The weather dresses up in fineries and the sun shines over Georgia, in the heart of America. Read more

The last sun rays of twilight taint the centenary blue tiles of the facades that border the estuary with hues of amber. Quiet facades. Privileged witnesses to the thirst of conquest, with their narrow doors and balconies ripped by hands clutched in waiting. Behind the blue and white paving flow the restless waters of the wide river which, in spring, transport aromas of strawberries and cherry trees and, in autumn, cork-tree blades that disappear in the cold, deep currents of the ocean.   Read more


Shellfish mix over lilac foam and aromas of thunder and sea breeze. (Grandcamp, Evening. Georges Seurat.1885)

Fig, lime and orange cuts placed over caramelized grits and fine herb cheese. (Landscape at Collioure. Henri Matisse. 1905).    Read more

Cinnamon hands place crowns that give off aromas of magnolias over tired shoulders. The same hands that weave, each morning, freshly cut rosy and white plumerias. Aloha, a sentiment transformed into fresh flowered leis. A unique offering for the Island wanderers.          Read more


1982. Robben Island´s 466/64 prisoner digs out white stone with his bare hands, like he has done every day for the last 18 years. At sunset he extends his aching back over a straw mat whilst his mind takes flight and dreams. He dreams of uniting his beloved land. He dreams of conquering the enemies that strangled South Africa for so many years.             Read more

Effervescent forums imagine the secrets of the now famous sequence 4 8 15 16 23 42, for years typed in solitude within the Hatch to avoid world destruction. Legions of followers who analyze every photogram and study the many books featured in the show in search of answers. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brian, Valis by Philip K. Dick, the Dark Tower trilogy by writers favourite Stephen King, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll….What does LOST have to generate such passion?.                       Read more


  1. Vous avez de bons points il, c’est pourquoi j’aime toujours verifier votre blog, Il semble que vous etes un expert dans ce domaine. maintenir le bon travail, Mon ami recommander votre site.

    Mon francais n’est pas tres bon, je suis de l’Allemagne.

    Mon blog:
    Meilleur Taux puis solution Rachat De Credit

  2. Concha, congratulations on the 2 year anniversary of your blog! I love reading your words….sentiments…..reflections……always very intriguing! Bjs, Arona

  3. RE: Prado Mona Lisa: Why would Leonardo arrange to have a copy made simultaneously with the original? An explanation might be found in the article, “Leonardo’s Val di Chiana Map in the Mona Lisa”, in the peer-reviewed journal, Cartographica, 46:3, 2011, available at http://digital.utpjournals.com/issue/43517/7 . The article explains that two copies can be arranged side-by-side and aligned so that the image on one copy is seen to continue on the other copy. The newly reconstituted landscape matches an actual place, namely the Val di Chiana, as mapped by Leonardo. Two such juxtaposed copies also form a stereoscopic arrangement which is an example of what Leonardo described in his Notebooks under “Differences of perception by one eye and by both eyes”. This is part of his investigation of stereopsis.

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