Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recommended: Leonardo da Vinci's Earlier Mona Lisa, the exhibition

From 16 Dec 2014 to 11 Feb 2015, I highly recommend art enthusiasts visit the historic The Arts House at the Old Parliament to marvel at the world premiere of the exhibition entitled Leonardo da Vinci's Earlier Mona Lisa. This exhibition offers visitors the exceptional opportunity to see in person the painting now known as the "Earlier Mona Lisa".

In this exhibition, each visitor will be treated to an interactive tablet-led audiovisual-guided tour that will guide visitors to explore the scientific and historical evidences supporting the painting's attribution to Leonardo da Vinci. Participants of all ages can enjoy the audiovisual-guided tour. The tablet-led multimedia application is available in two version:, one for the adults and one for the children. Visitors will be requested to produce their identity documents to exchange for the interactive multimedia tablet. The identity documents will be returned upon the return of the tablet at the end of the tour.

I think it was an apt idea that the painting, the "Earlier Mona Lisa", was being exhibited in the former Parliamentary Chamber of the historic Old Parliament House. I simply felt I was being transported back in time the moment I stepped into the former Parliamentary Chamber. In this chamber, Singapore's first parliament session was opened by the then President Yusof bin Ishak on 8 Dec 1965.

Visitors could take a seat on one of the seats in the former Parliamentary Chamber to admire and marvel at Leonardo da Vinci's "Earlier Mona Lisa" against the backdrop of the Neoclassical design prominent of the building. The lucky visitors may find themselves sitting on seats that had been sat on by notable politicians. Please take note that according to the signs that were being put up, a maximum of 80 visitors is allowed into the Chamber at each given time.

The "Earlier Mona Lisa" attributed to Leonardo da Vinci is simply beautiful and awe-inspiring. I spent time looking at the sfumato technique that was used in this painting. The graduations are so subtle from light to dark areas, without any sharp outlines. I have yet to figure out the kind of lighting that has been used to cast on the painting. I will be interested to find out more about it.

In the Chamber.

Accordingly to the publicity materials, I learnt that the adult tour is designed to take 1 - 1.5 hours. However, art enthusiasts who would like to examine the various supporting evidences that are being presented at this exhibition could consider setting aside more time to tour the entire exhibition. I spent more than three hours at this exhibition browsing through the various supporting evidences.

All the sections in the exhibition were engaging and interesting to me:

  • Historical Evidence: The historical evidence involving the history of the painting during the Italian Renaissance. The names Giorgio Vasari, Agostino Vespucci and Salai stuck on my head after viewing through this section.
Historical evidence.
Reproduction of Vasari's Vite.

  • The Discovery of the Century: Hugh Blaker (1873 - 1936) and his rediscovery of the painting now known as the "Earlier Mona Lisa" in the early 20th century.
About Hugh Blaker and his discovery.
John Eyre's "The Two Mona Lisa".
Henry Pulitzer's "Where is the Mona Lisa?"
  • Science and Mathematics: I spent quite a fair amount of time at this section being intrigued by geometrical and mathematics principles that Leonardo used in his works of art. The Goldblatt Thesis had also caught my attention. Bring along a jacket or some warm clothings. This section of the exhibition was rather cold during my visit.
Intrigued by Harmonic Geometry and the ancient geometric code used by Leonardo da Vinci.
Treatment of the canvas.
  • Comparative Analysis: I was drawn to the observations that Leonardo da Vinci put in a lot of attention in painting unique embroidery patterns based on geometrical shapes in the portraits that he executed. Intricate embroidery patterns can be found painted on both the "Earlier Mona Lisa" and the Lourve version.

  • See the painting: Concluding the exhibition, visitors get the opportunity to witness firsthand the "Earlier Mona Lisa" with a full light show that is designed to illuminate Leonardo's marvelous interplay of light and shadow. 

In my opinion, I would say that this painting is an artwork by a great master. Based on the various supporting evidences that are being presented at this exhibition, I also concur with many of the experts that the painting is a work attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, and it predates the Lourve version.

I felt thankful that there were not many people at the exhibition yet during my visit. I think this lack of visitorship will not last for long. Sooner or later, visitors will be flocking into The Art House at the Old Parliament to marvel at Leonardo da Vinci's "Earlier Mona Lisa".

This is an exhibition that I would highly recommend. If you only have the time to attend one exhibition that is related to Leonardo da Vinci in Singapore from now till 11 Feb 2015, this is the exhibition that you could choose to go. If you wish to be further convinced, watch this trailer of the exhibition:

16 Dec 2014 - 11 Feb 2015
11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
The Art House at the Old Parliament
1 Old Parliament Lane
Singapore 179429

Tickets are available from SISTIC and all SISTIC counter. The tickets are open tickets (i.e. you can buy the tickets first and decide on the date of your visit later) and each ticket is good for one single entry to the exhibition. A standard adult ticket costs $21 including SISTIC booking fee.

Family Packages are available!

American Express Card Members who make payment with American Express Cards issued by American Express International Inc. in Singapore (excluding American Express Corporate Card and American Express Cards issued by Citibank Singapore Limited, DBS Bank Limited, EZ-Link Pte Ltd and United Overseas Bank Limited) enjoy exclusive savings on ticket prices. Maximum 10 tickets per eligible Card per day.


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