[Magpie 59 and Sunday Scribblings -- the word is "messenger."]
“Well, we had just had a fine meal at a French restaurant, which had come highly recommended – though they didn’t mention that lunch at that place cost about the same as a new BMW – so we figured, hey, we’re in Paris so let’s go visit the Louvre.”
“And once you were in the Louvre, you and Mom made sure to visit the lady with the enigmatic smile.”
"And as you stood in the crowd looking at that famous painting, Dad, what message were you receiving?"
"Message? The message I received was, where's the smile? There really isn't a great smile. She's just a pleasant-looking woman sitting there, looking --er -- pleasant. Not much of a message, I admit, but of course I have a daughter who was an art history major so maybe she can serve as messenger.”
“Well, Dad, I can try. Reason I asked about a message is that so many have studied this portrait and have come up with a wide variety of theories as to its meaning. I believe that what's important is to first learn the facts."
"Well – you see, all that money spent on my art history classes wasn’t wasted – she’s the lady with the smile because that was her name.”
“I’m not following you.”
“Her name in Italian was sort of like ‘Mrs. Smile.’ You see, Dad, the woman was the wife of a rich guy named Francesco del Giocondo. He commissioned Leonardo – not DiCaprio, the other one – to paint a portrait of his wife because they had just had a son. When referring to her, they used the female form of Mrs Giocondo’s name, Gioconda, which is our English word ‘jocund’ – merry, jovial.”
“So she was Mona Smile.”
“Well, sort of. But Mona wasn’t her name; it was her title. ‘Ma donna’ meant ‘my lady’ and ‘Mona’ was a kind of slangy version of this: it meant, like, ‘ma’am’ or ‘madame.’ If today we were to refer to, say, Lisa Kudrow as 'Mrs. Lisa,' that would be the same deal. Anyway, the Italians call the painting ‘La Gioconda.”
“And that would translate as The Happy One.”
“Right, or something pretty close to it.”
“I wish you had been with us on that trip. You could have explained a lot of things.”
“Well, Dad, I wish I had been there too – especially for that lunch that cost as much as a new BMW.”
1 year ago