Museum and Gallery Guide

Da Vinci's 'Earlier Mona Lisa' in Singapore

By Yong Jing YiEvents - 16 December 2014 10:17 AM | Updated 12:25 PM

Da Vinci's 'Earlier Mona Lisa' in Singapore

You don’t have to travel to the Louvre in France to get a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting, ‘Mona Lisa’.

Well, an earlier version of it, at least.

This “other” ‘Mona Lisa’ by the renown Italian artist made its highly anticipated world premiere in an exhibition in Singapore, and will be on show at The Arts House from 16 December 2014 to 11 February 2015.

It was unveiled on 15 December by the Mona Lisa Foundation to mark the start of the da Vinci’s ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ exhibition, which is set to head to Hong Kong, China and other parts of the world.


Leonardo Da Vinci's "Earlier Mona Lisa"

It may hard for many to believe, let alone accept, another ‘Mona Lisa’.

It is believed that the artist started working on this piece of work in 1503, almost two decades earlier than the original ‘Mona Lisa’, but left it unfinished. An English nobleman later acquired the unfinished painting.

The debate on whether this ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ is the precursor and an original artwork of da Vinci started as early as 1584, and it was rekindled when English artist-art collector Hugh Blaker rediscovered it in 1913.

After 35 years of authentication and research by experts of different specialisation and parts of the world, The Mona Lisa Foundation has concluded that da Vinci did indeed paint two versions on the subject of Mona Lisa.

The painting grabbed the world’s attention when it was presented to the media in 2012 by the foundation.


At the exhibition, visitors will be taken through the scrutiny of various researches on the differences in the two paintings, and the focus on Mona Lisa’s smile and positioning of hands.

As art historian Professor Jean Pierre Isbouts puts it: “Da Vinci created the first female portrait of the High Renaissance that departed from the stereotypical, playing with his skills of light and shadow. What remains to the human eye is pristine quality and intense luminosity of the face.”

With the aid of interactive multimedia displays, visitors are guided through the world of Italian Renaissance and the exciting discovery and authentication of the painting.

There are nine galleries that feature various historical facts and references, with explanations on painting materials, dating, harmonic geometry, as well as studies that compared columns, shadows and copies of ‘Mona Lisa’.

Visitors will then come face to face with the painting at the end of the tour.

Date: 16 December 2014 – 11 February 2015 | Time: Daily 11am-10pm | Venue: The Arts House at The Old Parliament, 1 Old Parliament Lane | Tickets: $14 (child), $15 (student / fulltime national servicemen / senior citizens), $20 (standard) from Sistic