Singapore, 12 February, 2015 – “ ‘Amazing’, ‘, ‘Astounding’, ‘, ‘Phenomenal’, ‘Stunning’, ‘Breathtaking’, ‘Genius’ were some of the words from visitors upon seeing the ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ housed in its custom built bullet proof showcase in Singapore’s old Chambers of Parliament. Many simply responded to a written survey by stating: “the most beautiful painting I have ever seen”.
Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ exhibition closed in Singapore on February 11th, leaving a queue of people still waiting to catch their first, second or even third view of the painting. The tens of thousands who experienced the exhibition over its almost two month run praised its contemporary look, cutting edge technology and fascinating informative content. For a while, the mysteries of the Renaissance came to life for the public of Singapore and for a myriad of international visitors to the city – many of whom had flown in specially.
The painting ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ was already identified in 1503, and again in 1584, as the earlier version of Leonardo’s iconic Mona Lisa (which is housed in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France), but disappeared from the public eye until its appearance at public exhibition in Yeovil, England in 1856 – followed by its presence at a public auction in Somerset, England in 1858. The line of its provenance from that time until today is now fully recorded thanks to the work of The Mona Lisa Foundation, a Swiss non-profit organisation whose mission has now become to show this great masterpiece to the world.
The Foundation has developed an exhibition to accompany the painting and fully explain all the history and details surrounding its discovery and the authentication process. It chose to unveil this masterpiece to the public in Singapore thanks to warm invitations by the government. The worldwide tour of the exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’” began in Singapore on December 15th, 2014 – where it opened with a magnificent Gala Premiere, attended by many VIPs and leading opinion makers, at The Arts House at the Old Parliament – an important and historic Singaporean building. This was the first time that this important earlier version of the Mona Lisa, now attributed to Da Vinci, was seen in public since its attribution to the great Master.
“The subject of the exhibition, which is of incredible magnitude, was complex and challenging, indeed. We did so through unique and never before seen media such as a cutting-edge audio-visual tablet tour full of interviews, re-enactments and a series of interactive stations”, said Dr. Markus A. Frey, President of the Foundation. “We are delighted with the public response which was unanimously positive. A clear testament to this is that word-of-mouth recommendations led to daily visitors growing five-fold between the beginning and the end of the exhibition. In addition, it would appear that daily attendance was on average seven to ten times that of comparable exhibitions coming to the country.”
The painting and its accompanying exhibition will be traveling on to other major Asian countries including, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Taiwan before going on to the rest of the world.