Isleworth Mona Lisa (Geneva), detail of the dress

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“He wasted a lot of time drawing knots of cords in an intricate pattern, in such a way that the thread would continue from one end to the other, filling a round,” Vasari says with a hint of impatience; “one of these is a very complex but beautiful design, with the words “Leonardus Vinci Academia” at its center.” Some have suggested that such interlacing—vincire in Italian—was a subtle way for Leonardo to sign his work. Whatever the case may be, this single decorative element in the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, just above the swell of her breasts, is no accident.


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