The Mona Lisa Effect

The Mona Lisa Effect is when the eyes of a portrait appear to follow you as you walk in front of the painting. How would you feel if you felt the eyes of a painting following you?

One year when I took my fifth grade art class to a large art museum, we had that very experience. The docent asked my students to line up and slowly walk past a portrait which convincingly appears to follow you as you pass. Of course, my students were thoroughly amazed. The painting we viewed was entitled, Russian Beauty.

At a later time, when we had returned to my classroom, we discussed the students’ impressions of our trip. The comment that stood out to me was from a boy who loved strolling in front of the portrait. He exclaimed he learned that “beauty would follow him all the days of his life!” I just found that extremely profound to hear from a youngster!

Just imagine if all of us had the attitude that beauty would always follow us throughout our lives. I would think there would be a lot less trouble in the world. We would take better care of one another. There would be no prejudiced behaviors. We would only be looking for the good and blind to anything less than that.

Here is a little poem I wrote about Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece with the mysterious smile, the one with the Mona Lisa Effect.


Mona Lisa's looking, looking.
What does she see?
She's looking at me!
I try to smile sweetly, 
to work so discreetly.
It's sometimes distracting -
I'm over-reacting!
But to work as the watched,
I've totally botched...
Maybe I'll be brave, some of these days
and I'll just return her gaze!

Oh my, it appears that about a year and a half ago, scientists proved that Mona Lisa no longer cares to look at us. The Mona Lisa effect apparently does not apply to her. Well, even if Mona Lisa isn’t watching us, the world is. As we strive to right the wrongs, may we make wise choices for the good of everyone. Here is to allowing beauty follow us, no matter who is watching!

Published by Linda M. Wolfe

Midwestern mystic with varying amounts of mother, teacher, artist, seeker

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