Professor Martin Kemp - Mona Lisa
You might easily be forgiven for assuming that the world’s most famous - and thus valuable - painting must at least be the size of a wall (or at least big enough to dominate a dining room). But you know what? It’s like a small flat screen TV set on its side (30 in x 21 in).
Astonishing then that something so… un-Sistine Chapel by comparison, is in fact the world’s greatest cultural icon (I once bought a poster of it and having hung it in my hallway, frankly found it something of a ‘downer’).
Still, while art is only ever subjective, what I do find fascinating is its myth and Professor Martin Kemp certainly proved the perfect guide to adding to - rather than peeling away - the appeal of its enduring glamour.
And boy is there plenty of that; indeed, Professor Kemp admitted he’s hounded by ‘Leonardo Loonies’ all the time, each boasting their own extraordinary theory. And if that weren’t intriguing in itself, he added that even from a purely academic stance, differences of opinion could almost descend into physical confrontation. “Who’d have thought,” he said “that renaissance documentation could ever become a contact sport?”
An orator who did quite simply what it said on the literary circuit tin, he was value for money and then some. And as for who the Mona Lisa really was… I’ve already phoned author Dan Brown.
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