Early in the process, it was agreed that the publication was to be designed more for a general audience than a strictly academic one. In addition, the book has a ‘circular’, rather than a ‘linear’ construction. The dialogue goes well just beyond the painting itself, but treats in detail the historic atmosphere in which Leonardo lived and worked, and logical conclusions as to why and how he painted this portrait. One of my arguments for this was that, as an artist and inventor, one could better understand the painting with a more comprehensive understanding of the man. In addition, the background of the young woman portrayed is treated in detail. There is also, of course, a substantive section on the myriad of scientific tests undertaken on the painting over the last 35 years or so.
I am fond of an expression I borrowed from a book by Professor Martin Kemp, who used it to support his authentication of another work, to Leonardo. It is “an accumulation of interlocking reasons”. It is clear that no one reason will be sufficient to justify an authorship by Leonardo. The monumental construction of a case has to be in sections.
In looking seriously into the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci, it quickly became apparent that efforts to truly understand that extraordinary individual could easily consume years, if not decades. As the research proceeded, the project took on a life of its own, extending well beyond its original contract period.
Proof is elusive.
It is also apparent that any study of Leonardo and his art can at best be a documented record of what we know now, like a snapshot of a moment in time. New research continually brings new findings and conclusions, and, in truth, very little about Leonardo’s art could be considered “definitive”. Knowledge of it remains fluid. Authentication of many of his works has been disputed over centuries, and even today there are dissenting voices, and constant “pro and con” arguments concerning paintings “officially” considered to have been his work, as well as some others by “unknown” artists. My resulting theories and conclusions are based on information available to the date of writing. Even after this book was published, I continued to unearth new material and suggestions as to how this painting was constructed, and the radical differences in its geometric composition compared to the Louvre version. This website will be updated with some never-before-seen comparisons and conclusions.
Still, it seems that no scholarly work today can claim to be 100% accurate on this subject.
‘Proof’ is elusive.