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Representations of Art Works the Mona Lisa as a Case Study

Representations of Art Works the Mona Lisa as a Case Study

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Published by Louiza1
Theory of a Work
Richard Smiraglia - Theory of a Work
Theory of a Work
Richard Smiraglia - Theory of a Work

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Published by: Louiza1 on May 25, 2010
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Knowledge OrganizationLouiza PatsisDr. Richard SmiragliaDecember 2004DIS 810
Representations of Art Works: The
 Mona Lisa
as a Case StudyAbstract
Much research has been done on the categorization of art works, but not on thecategorization of representations of art works. The
Mona Lisa
, painted around 1503 byLeonardo da Vinci, is one of the most famous paintings in the world, and is a goodexample of an art work with many representations. A case study of the
Mona Lisa
isused to find out the types of representations of the
Mona Lisa
, and what natural groupingsof these representations exist. The aim of this empirical study is to add to the new theoryof the work by developing a taxonomy of representations that can aid in developingsimilar taxonomies of other works of art. This taxonomy will be useful to librarians for cataloguing representations of the Mona Lisa, and would lead to effective informationretrieval by art expert and average users.
1. Introduction and Background
A vast array of representations of some art works exist in art libraries andmuseums today, especially in the modern digital age. Each year, the amount of information in the world increases, especially after the advent of the Internet. The growthof representations of art work is no exception. Many works are communicated throughart, and contain much information about culture, times and humanity. They are of interest to people around the world. Discovering what representations of works of fineart exist is thus important, and can lead to improved information retrieval.1
Mona Lisa
was composed of oil on panel on poplar wood panel. It is 77cmX 53 cm (30 X 20 7/8 in). As McMullen (1977, 29-30) wrote, various sources citedifferent years for the painting of the work, ranging between 1503 and 1515. Theoriginal is in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, and is the only instantiation of the painting. The painting has inspired stories and myths on who the sitter in the
Mona Lisa
was. Copies, photographs, critiques, books, movies and even chocolates in severallanguages on or about this famous image have been produced since then.McMullen (1977, 40) wrote that the
Mona Lisa
is a painting about the third wifeof merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo de Zanobi del Giocondo, Lisa di Antonio Mari di Noldo Gherardini, who was born in 1479. Gould (1975, 110) wrote that this what most people still believe; that is why the painting is called
 La Gioconda
. Stites (1970, 329-331)wrote that some people think the painting is of Isabella d’Este, daughter of Duke andDuchess of Ferrara. Accordign to Stites (1970, 333), Da Vinci turned down offers by thePope and others to work on paintings, but did not turn down painting the
Mona Lisa
,which he worked on for three years. He carried it with him everywhere, even to hisretreat in Ambroise, France. He never said that he had finished it.There is one instantiation of the Mona Lisa. Smiraglia (2001, 167) wrote that aninstantiation is “a realization of a work that takes physical form in a document”, or amanifestation of a work. This is the immutable original, the progenitor in the Louvre inParis. The instantiation is unique in ideational or semantic content (see section 2), and in physical characteristics. Leonardo da Vinci did not paint more than one
Mona Lisa
.Even if a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci “copied” the painting, it would not be an2
exact copy or instantiation of the original. Representations include paintings bycontemporaries of da Vinci, paintings by subsequent painters that added their interpretation to the work, and photographs. At the International Society for KnowledgeOrganization conference in 2004, Smiraglia presented a meta-theory of “works”, wherethe evolution, derivation and mutation of ideational content varies across time, culture,linguistic boundaries and canonicity. Smiraglia (2004) conducted a study on Etruscanartifacts to demonstrate the inherence of the work in non-documentary artifacts, andchose eight artifacts, intending find their representations. Smiraglia (2004, 311) wrotethat representations are infinitely mutable. The representations in the books found arecopies of such paintings or photographs and are thus second or third generationrepresentations.A user might want to find a representation of the original, or they might want tofind an X-ray of the painting, or the Andy Warhol mutation of the painting. Or theymight want a description in a catalog of exactly what type of representation they havefound. If the library catalog is a bibliographic tool, it will assist the user in finding theedition that he or she wants. The first step is categorization of representations of the artwork.
1.1 The Myth of the
 Mona Lisa
A myth has surrounded the
Mona Lisa
since it was first painted. The
Mona Lisa
has come to mean different things to different people and cultures throughout time – fromthe wife of Francesco del Giocondo to Leonardo da Vinci painted as a woman, to awoman who holds the knowledge and mystery of all of life, to Mary Magdelena, possible3

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