Sir Joshua’s Mona Lisa on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Mona Lisa is on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery from 10 October 2006 – 11 February 2007.

The painting was one of Sir Joshua's most prized possessions; he believed it to be Leonardo’s original.  The painting in the Louvre – now the most famous painting in the world – was not valued in the 18th century as it is now. Reynolds knew of it - but he’d been told it was "not esteemed or considered as the original" (what would he have made of the crowds that go to see it today?)  Sir Joshua thought his was the real thing.

Dulwich Picture Gallery’s founders - two art dealers - had also encountered the "Leonardo problem" (everybody knowing his name, but no-one being sure what a real Leonardo looked like). They confidently bought a small portrait that they attributed to the master.  It is actually by Piero di Cosimo, and couldn’t look less like a Leonardo.  Sir Joshua’s Mona Lisa, on the other hand, is a fine copy and it retains its bright original colour. From a distance – for instance at the end of the suite of rooms at Dulwich Picture Gallery – it looks startlingly effective. The artist, whoever he was, was highly skilled.

Recent research has confirmed the probable date as early 17th century - and that it is painted on oak from the Baltic (not something Leonardo would have used).  The particular value of Sir Joshua’s Mona Lisa is that it is the best early copy to have emerged so far; and consequently it gives a glimpse of details and colours – particularly the blues - that are not visible in the original because of discoloured varnish.

The painting will hang with other pictures once owned by Sir Joshua Reynolds that are now part of the permanent collection at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Dulwich Picture Gallery
Gallery Road
London SE21 7AD

Tel: 020 8693 5254
Web site

Open: Tuesday-Friday 10am–5pm; weekends & Bank Holiday Mondays 11am–5pm.
Closed Mondays except for Bank Holidays.

Entry to the Gallery is £4; £3 for seniors; children, students, disabled and Friends are free.

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