The Truth behind Mona Lisa’s Smile

von Wayne Caers

Around five hundred years ago, Leonardo da Vinci decided to sit down with a pretty young lady and paint her.

As the world now knows, Leonardo was a bit of a dab hand at painting. It is therefore with some astonishment that ‘those in the know’ could possibly interpret her facial expression as a smile. It is not! It is, far more, a smirk.

Mona Lisa smiling would look like this:

Which, of course, she doesn’t.

The question is thus: why on earth was Mona Lisa, who, according to Wikipedia was probably Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini, smirking whilst being painted?

I will reveal the true answer here…

The painter Leonardo was a master of many things, yet not of the English lingo. Whilst they sat together, they would often converse in English as a way of livening up the tedious process of sitting around for hours on end being painted.

Leonardo’s continual mistakes did indeed sometimes make Mona (or Lisa?) laugh. Yet five days after hearing the cacophony of grammatical blunders, the smile eventually faded into a smirk.

The final straw came when, at the end of a hard day’s painting, Leo said to Mona “Lisa, you come every day for the sitting. Now you must pay me.”

Did he really just separate the verb from its object, thought Lisa (or Mona?)? Surely he must know that the verb and its object should stay together? The man is a genius; how could he possibly not know that? Surely this outstanding man must know that the correct sentence is: “You come for the sitting every day”, thus placing the time element at the back of the sentence.

The ensuing smirk that was captured by the painter would be discussed for centuries thereafter.

If ever an internet were to be invented, LiMo (or MoLi?) mused, she would create a website called iLexis and describe this in more detail:


Wayne Caers