Why didn’t Leonardo da Vinci finish the Mona Lisa?

Scientists have found the cause of the damage to the artist's hand

Reading time 6 minutes

Leonardo da Vinci could damage the nerve in the fall, which prevented him from drawing in the last years of life, suggest Italian doctors. They diagnosed the artist with elbow paralysis, analyzing the image of his right hand in two works.

Previously, it was assumed that the damage to Leonardo’s hand caused a stroke. But in the study published in the journal of the Royal medical society, doctors made an alternative assumption. The researchers believe that one of the hands of da Vinci began to function poorly due to nerve damage. This meant that he could no longer hold the palette and brush in his right hand.

Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452-1519, was an artist and inventor whose talents spanned architecture, anatomy, engineering and sculpture, as well as painting. But experts have long argued to what extent Leonardo was Ambidextrous. And, although he was more skilled in drawing with his left hand, it is believed that he drew only with his right. A separate study published last month confirmed this theory.

Experts have confirmed that the 500-year-old engraving – a rare image of Leonardo da Vinci

To learn more about what caused Leonardo’s injury, the authors of the research published in the journal of the Royal medical society studied a number of historical artifacts. Among them was an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi in 1505 depicting a man playing the lyre da braccio – a stringed instrument of The Renaissance. The man in the print was recently identified as Leonardo da Vinci. This suggests that at this time he made good use of both hands, the researchers said.

Scientists have analyzed and portrait of an elderly Leonardo, written by Giovanni Ambrogio Figino, an artist who worked in Milan. According to the analysis, the picture of the Renaissance man held his right hand in a «hard, compressed position».

Sketch of Leonardo da Vinci with the image of his «clawed hand»

Dr. Davide Lazzeri, a specialist in plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgery at the Villa Salaria clinic in Rome, who led the analysis, said: «Instead of portraying the typical clenched arm observed in post-stroke muscle spasticity (a state of increased muscle tone), the picture offers an alternative diagnosis, such as elbow paralysis, commonly known as clawed arm».

The ulnar nerve passes from the shoulder to the little finger and controls almost all of the internal muscles of the arm, which allow fine motor skills to work, so, a fall could cause shoulder injury, leading to paralysis or weakness.

Dr. Lazzery added that there are no reports of other motor disorders, which further confirms that it is unlikely that the stroke was the cause of damage to Leonardo’s hand.

Another evidence confirming the alternative version is a diary entry of one of Leonardo’s students about a visit to the artist’s house in 1517. The disciple Antonio de Beatis wrote: «you can Not expect better work from him, since his right hand is paralyzed. And although Messer Leonardo can no longer draw with his inherent sweetness, he can still create and teach others».

Experts believe that Leonardo da Vinci could leave the «Mona Lisa» unfinished due to injury of his right hand

«It would be interesting to examine Leonardo’s skeleton to verify at least the presence of fractures or injuries», – said Lazzeri.

The study may continue work on why Leonardo did not finish a number of paintings, including his portrait of the Mona Lisa.

«Five centuries after his death, during which thousands of scientists read his works, discussed his discoveries and explored his life from all points of view, there is still a lot that we need to learn about Leonardo da Vinci, a man of the Renaissance», – said Lazzery.

Gay pigeons, bedbugs with middle age crisis, and other characters

Outstanding animation series for adults which became popular over the past five years

Reading time 5 minutes

Each year there appear more and more animation series with 18+ rating, discussing such themes as politics, relationships, sex, violence and etcetera. And these animated fictions are drastically different from good old Disney movies. The well-known The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, Futurama, American Dad! started releasing in early 2000s. Furthermore, over the past five years there were created new adult series, some of which are claiming to be construed as iconic.

2013: Rick and Morty – the new wave of adult cartoons

«Science makes sense, family doesn’t»

The story (short parody film of Back to the Future) revolves around the adventures of an ordinary boy Morty Smith and his grandfather Rich, the crazy scientist, who possesses the cutting-edge technologies for space travel.

Shortly after its release, Rick and Morty became a new trending cartoon for adults along with epochal The Simpsons. The series is still one of the highest cartoons in ranking (97% on RottenTomatoes) and keeps pleasing the fans with new episodes about politics, science, and family relationship.

2014: Bojack Horseman – the reality of the American dream

«Don’t look back. You’re not going that way»

Meet  BoJack Horseman – the washed-up sitcom star of the 1990s – 20 years later. Now he lives in Hollywood, drinks whisky, and plans his big return to celebrity relevance by writing memoirs.

The show was warmly welcomed by critics as well as by the audience for its realism: the main character deals with depression, psychological traumas, alcoholism, drugs addiction, self-deterioration – and all of these is peppered with black humor and sarcasm making fun of our society.

2016: Animals.we behave like beasts

«Unexpected tales of urban life»

The comparison of people and animals frequently appears in culture and always does the trick of reflecting the real life with all its manifestations. In front of us is New York City – a concrete jungle the inhabitants of which are rats suffering from unrequited love, gay pigeons, and bedbugs with midlife crisis whose stories are being told in the series.

Overall, it is a very funny, slightly cynical, and extremely truthful animated fiction which may not brighten up your weekdays, but definitely will make you think.

2018: Disenchantmenta new Netflix release which did not turned out to be a disappointment

«Misadventure awaits»

The series is about an alcoholic princess Bean living in a medieval kingdom Dreamland. Obviously, the father-king wants to get his rebellious daughter married against her will. That is why Bean with the company of an elf and her destructive “personal demon” leaves the kingdom and travels the world meeting fantastic creatures and equally interesting people.

The series can be fairly called the feminine version of Bojack Horseman, but Disenchantment also has its own charm and story. Additionally, that Medieval atmosphere really helps the feeling of realism: of course, not princesses in magnificent dresses or magic creatures – but vikings, drunkards, criminals, and other tasteful attributes of middle ages.

2018: Super Drags – on the same page with social justice warriors

«Adults only, honey»

Three gay friends lead double lives as superhero drag queens, fighting crimes against the LGBT community.

The newest animated series from Netflix is actively discussed in social media: not a lot of people have seen it yet, but the idea itself is a whole reason for debates. We will find out the reaction of viewers later, but, for instance, Jason Fontelieu called the show a good sarcastic comedy, although, unfinished in terms of the narrative and made for a very limited audience.

Enjoy!