Tap to unmute
Decoding da Vinci | Full Documentary | NOVA | PBS
- Published on Jun 7, 2023 veröffentlicht
- Discover the science behind Leonardo da Vinci's masterpieces-and Mona Lisa's iconic smile. (Aired November 13, 2019)
Official Website: to.pbs.org/3ZJHjmY | #NOVAPBS
Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance genius. Not only did he paint masterpieces of art, but he was an obsessive scientist and inventor, dreaming up complex machines centuries ahead of his time, including parachutes, armored tanks, hang gliders, and robots. On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, with the help of biographer Walter Isaacson, NOVA investigates the secrets of Leonardo’s success. How did his scientific curiosity, from dissections of cadavers to studies of optics, shape his genius and help him create perhaps the most famous painting of all time, the "Mona Lisa"?
04:47 How Did da Vinci Make a Perfect Painting?
09:07 The Original Mona Lisa
14:29 The Early Life of Leonardo da Vinci: Engineer, Scientist, Artist
23:41 The Science of Painting: Restoring a da Vinci Masterpiece
29:17 Modern Day Painters Using da Vinci’s Process
32:24 Leonardo da Vinci’s Anatomical Accuracy
39:36 Mona Lisa’s Smile: Do Our Eyes Trick Us?
44:21 Shocking Result of the Restoration of Bacchus
46:13 Digital Restoration of the Mona Lisa
© 2023 WGBH Educational Foundation
All rights reserved
This program was produced by GBH, which is solely responsible for its content.
This program is made possible by viewers like you. Support your local PBS station here: pbs.org/donate/
Enjoy full episodes of your favorite PBS shows anytime, anywhere with the free PBS App: to.pbs.org/2QbtzhR
Stay up to date on the latest science discoveries, full episodes, articles, videos, and more by signing up for NOVA's newsletter here: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/newslet...
Clip-Share: / novaonline
Clip-Share: / pbs
#davinci #leonardodavinci #monalisa #renaissance #anatomy #painting #bacchus #finearts
- Science & Technology
Comments • 809
I am impressed with the scientific methods and engineering tools used to study the painting by the talented Leonardo, who was an engineer, a scientist , and an artist.
Exquisite, an art lover in all of us is so happy to have a mini art history class to learn from in this documentary ♥️
I cannot get enough of NOVA. I absolutely ADORE it. I can, and do, watch for hours & hours, episode after episode. I have no idea what’s on mainstream (CBS, NBC, ABC etc…) TV these days b/c I only watch PBS and the occasional on-demand movie. Keep up the magnificent work!❤🎉
I have been fascinated by Leonardo DaVinci since I was a child and I found a large book in the public library in my small town about him. He is so out there. He is truly a man deserving of the word genius
dont't believe that book , it was written by someone who didn't even know him, and the way that they explain the art is bull, sorry but i've been a painter for almost 40 years , gossip is what creates misinformation
Yep its really amazing
If i have to guess this is a mix of expressions ( smile the base ) ( then on other points on her face there some others thats reselble at some types of smile but arent )
Its really amazing if we focus on mouth and go to right gives a feeling , if we go from mouth to nose another , etc , if we mix with focus and unfocus gives another ( this guy is really a genius , he probably could see through everyone just by looking at their faces )
No wonder he was so obcesed with muscles , etc
Leonardo's work was so broad, it feels like this documentary should be just part of a series on his work. More, please!
S. E½is ❤3eAZ
Exactly -- I'm part way through his biography by Walter Isaacson -- there was so much talent and brilliance in one single person.
Mona Lisa is boring, he probably would have liked to paint boys, as that is what he really loved
I love that Nova always puts up the entire documentary free on Clip-Share
Ditto the only thing worth a hour left on PBS
Especially when it's about DaVinci! If the world has had one person that was closest to omnipotence; it was him.
Super awesome!! Love it!!!
Wonderful programming. As an artist myself, I can only imagine what it would have been like to study under da Vinci. Now, with programming like this, I almost can!
Believing in yourself is only half of the adventure and the other half is finding out why! Best wishes to you!! 🎓
I am a fine artist, also, and I feel the same way! William Bouguereau, my favorite artist- --his skin tones are unreal! -- used multiple oil lgazes to achieve life like skintones. Kimberly
Great explanations of how an oil painting works & how renaissance artists built up their images, very straight-forward and welI-illustrated! Imagine that must've been really helpful for anybody without art or art history background?
I'm filled with amazement and find it awe inspiring to think of the skills and creativity of these masters to accomplish what they did in days where they didn't have the resources or tools available in modern times.
I like how they try using science and tech to understand and recreate Da Vinci's work but it's like playing a hologram of Jordan taking it to the house. Just isn't the same. One of a kind. Thanks Nova
His ideas were 500 years ahead of those times.... Breathtakingly intelligent and his creativity was off the scale 😮 l am convinced Leonardo knew things that we don't know today ....
Thank you Nova for creating this video- a masterpiece itself
I went to Paris in the late 90’s with my then husband & another couple. We went to the Louvre one day. The others glanced at the Mona Lisa. I was awestruck. They all walked off as I stood in front of the painting. Out of no where I started to cry as I stood there. Was totally overwhelmed. To this day I am not sure what happened. Finally broke away and had to find my husband and travel companions. That memory has stayed with me. That feeling of being overcome with emotion.
My late Momzie had the same reaction to The David when she saw it in person.
That sounds like schizophrenia.
@Aaron G Not sure I understand your comment, or see your point?
While it is undoubtedly true that no one painted quite like Leonardo, I must admit that I've never found this one of his works very interesting for anything other than its superlative technique. In my opinion it is a brilliantly painted and mysteriously beguiling portrait of a not very famous woman that eventually became world famous for reasons even the world's most farsighted genius couldn't possibly have foreseen. More people flock to see it simply because it is world famous and not because they admire Leonardo's technical skill. For most of them, a fifteen-minute stay is more than enough. For some others, a lifetime of study will never be enough. I sadly fall into neither one of these two groups and so watched this excellent NOVA episode with both curiosity and bemusement.
Erik: I'm glad you said it so I didn't have to. I have stood in front of that painting in the Louvre, and it confirmed my feelings that Leonardo executed it almost under duress. It is soulless (what I suspect is the present-day 'enigmatic') compared to his other drawings and paintings, almost as if he was fulfilling a contract and was as disinterested in the woman as she was in him. He has drawn other women (and men/boys) with their souls shining in their faces, which will move you to tears every single time. For a man with, let us say, different proclivities, that is genius; to be able to see sublime beauty without prejudice. So many other of his works proclaim his genius rather than this one hackneyed example.
I was with you there being underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa, I think you mean "15 second stay" because you can't get close or even do much more than glance at it from a distance without major effort, while you're in the Louvre for crying out loud with amazing works of art everywhere, there's a crowd of people holding up their phones so they can get a picture above everyone's heads. I didn't even bother and thought the people there were just doing that to say they saw it, could get a much better picture of it on a postcard. Looking at the digital restoration though in this documentary, I suddenly got it though. This is a damn good painting. I enjoyed seeing it in all its beauty, and had fun focusing on different parts to catch the optical illusion of the grin. :) Don't focus on the hype.
I agree, it's famous because of a famous theft (or was it two?) that is actually more interesting than the painting. This painting is not equal to 'Lady with an Ermine' - a genuine work of genius.
@J K No, it is indeed fifteen minutes. If you are in a tour group, the group is given a full fifteen minutes in front of it. If you are visiting it alone, I can see how you might think it was shorter, especially if you had to spend time fighting your way through a group in order to get a decent look at it.
@J K Right. The part re: peripheral vision gave the clue to 'how' it's perceived differently ~ not so much due to the viewer's angle changing, but the eye's scanning it; the subtle shading sort of like subliminal suggestion leading to the perception of that crescent our brain 'reads' as a smile. But, otherwise, the picture is a 'meh' more famous for being famous. Too bad it is so 'sacred' so it won't get the varnish removal job, er, procedure; maybe next century.
Only PBS could pull off such a beautiful documentary about one of the most important individuals to walk the Earth... Seldom is a genius recognized during their lives...not the case with da Vinci...the way PBS delivers...in the background the soundtrack is so subtle yet so in control based on beats per minute, the cadence of the narrator's voice, and of course the photography, or to be more precise, the lens...bravo OBS bravo... the peterman...by the way I named one of my cats sfumato, the other was Mozart...p...
I was impressed to learn that not only he is a great actor, Leonardo is also a great painter.
You are impressed? really? Did you ever do any research on this person? I`m not dissing just to be clear, it just doesn`t make sense to me how can someone in this day and age not be aware of this Genius`s capabilities.
@novus seclorum Sorry mate for my lack of culture. I saw Leonardo in "the beach", "Titanic" and many more movies, but i never ever heard of him as a painter, and a very good one!
@jouhannaud jean françois oh man, you are missing alot of amazing stuff! but the fact that you are willing to learn speaks volumes in this day and age! so you still have my respect!
A heartfelt thanks for the dedicated work on the masterpiece of Leonardo for all the art lovers to enjoy. Now I understand a glimpse of the dedication of the artist to paint the masterpiece. May Yehovah Elohim bless you all who did it, abundantly.
What a great programme. Leonardo was a true Master.
Documentaries like this are the reason why I love NOVA. Enjoyed, Thanks for sharing...❤
Leonardo is not my favorite master artist, however, he *is* definitely a master artist. I always loved how he painted the Mona Lisa’s hands
There's a lot history and details about Leonardo Da Vinci's art, for a time there's was a bit of confusion whether Mona Lisa painting belong to Italy or France.. I guess the solution has not been solved but thanks to French we're still able to appreciate it.. The landscape is a strong reference of those two paintings as if they belong to the same era and place.. Amazing documentary, thanks for sharing your input!
There's something with that smile on the Mona Lisa, it could say anything.
A true gem in the world of painting.
I absoluteky loved this! Thank you NOVA ❤️
Today people see Art and Science different from each other sometimes in contradiction but in Leonardo's world they completed eachother without science he wouldn't have been able to make his masterpieces in art and without his drawings he wouldn't have been able to draw those wonderful and beautiful representations of the human anatomy ! .... He never saw the contradiction between art and science but rather them as one .... What a genius 🙂 ....
I stood in from of the Mona Lisa in 1970, when there was no barricade. She hung on the wall just like in anyone's living room. I was so struck by the mysterious beauty in her gaze. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be that close, unlike the way one has to view her today. Leonardo is a masterpiece, himself. A true genius of a man. Blessings to all
Da Vinci is and always will be the ultimate polymath. Genius on all levels.
Quite interesting and enlightening! I've always been fascinated by the Mona Lisa.
The images emerge from the shadows it's unbelievable. What a genius!
I'm so glad that Nova covered this subject! Thank you!!
This was a fantastic and super interesting program. Thank you NOVA for producing such a well made documentary on DaVinci...
I saw this painting when I visited the Louvre back in the early 2000s. And what struck me was how her eyes seemed to follow me around as I moved from the extreme left of the viewing angle to the extreme right. That following-eye-gaze is what struck me as the greatest mystery of the Mona Lisa, not her smile.
The fact that her eyes follow you is not at all unique! Look at any photo of any person looking into the lenz and you will see the same thing! You are meeting direct eye contact with a person in any such photo even a tv commercial. Try it and you'll see. This woman was looking into Davincis eyes when he painted her so she's also looking into yours at any angle!
@Vincent Lussier But Da Vinci PAINTED that image. It took incredible skill on his part to make those painted shapes so effectively mimic what one could easily achieve with photography.
It works in this video too! in the segment they talk about her smile; keep her eyes in your peripheral vision
Thank you PBS, for the wonderful content you post! So enjoy documentaries.
Amazing! Learned so many new things about someone I’ve admired for decades!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Since NOVA is nice enough to provide all of us to watch their documentaries free of charge... The least we could do is to click the "Like" button to support them. That is the least we can do! 👍😍👍
Enlightening, and thrilling. Thank you for so wonderful a presentation.
amazing documentary ! its a wonderful way to learn about these genius people, thank you so much for uploading.
Beautiful documentary. Brought a tear to thy eye. A good one.
So enjoyable to watch something that really instructs and makes you think! Thank you!
Thank you PBS Nova 🙏 I used to watch your programs back in the days of analog television as a young person , but you got lost in Time and distractions .
Now that I have found you again , I look forward to learning marvellous things from you once again ! and I already see a couple of Documentaries on
the side bar which I expect I will enjoy as thoroughly as I did this one , again thank you . Subscription earned and added 🙏😺
Fascinating use of science and technology.
Wonderful documentary, thank you, Nova. But how sad that there are drawings locked away inside Windsor Castle.
25.12 or the shape of the wing, its anatomy, how it's about to fold...and how the heavy cloth falls and drapes different than sheer fabrics. 32.11 he also manages to capture something of their inner selves, a certain glance, gesture...makes them individual and alive not stills. 33.51 I think it's fascinating. 35.33 yes, you can see how he literally picks it apart, like an engineer, finding out how beneath the muscles, their attachments n tendons fit onto the epiphysis of our bones. How the clavicle connects to the humerus, then radius, ulna...giving us two different motions (ulna our elbow flexing up/down, radius giving us circular mobility) in our lower arm. Totally fabulous that he did this, as mentioned, under the current no frigiration circumstances, and documented it with such skill. 36 agree with her on the muscles, then she skips over bones and their importance (?), and gives him an F for inner organs....remember again (rotting bodies) and even if you could stand dissecting/portraying the inside of small/large intestines or our kidneys etc they're not as mechanical (which in my view was probably, judging from his interest in engineering, infrastructure, bridges, machines, physics) and adding the fact he had no efficient tools to explore their inner workings, no access (there was non) to previous knowledge of even the purpose of some of them. Not exactly a professional but assume perhaps people may have connected bowls with getting rid of waste, hearts to pump our blood, lungs to breathe etc. He probably was more interested in the motion, flexibility and such than trying (without means or any previous knowledge) to find out the inner working of our spleen. 36.19 obviously FAR from correct, still imagine his starting point...this may still be ahead of time? Yes, from cows so he may not have had access to even dissect a female, thus missing ovaries etc. I don't know but if anyone does, please inform. 37.59 he was really a master of his time of connecting knowledge he possessed from different fields, perhaps because the lines were not as clear as now between a coroner, engineer, artist etc. 39.30 very good point, not only perspective converging but the colour of a mountain and the lessening of focus, all of these efforts in his work stands out as revolutionary knowledge applied. Loved the Mona Lisa test 😂 fascinating how he was able to bring her to life. Regarding the bacchus, perhaps he started (?). Did the background started work on the figure and his mind wondered on, so it had to be finished so he left it to others to complete?
If there may be a lot to recommend broader education, incorporating many disciplines
Thanks for putting up these Documentaries NOVA... U guys rock and I love watching all ur content... Pls continue...
❤ Thank you for this masterpiece and teaching 💜
Once I see a NOVA program, everything I consider is changed. That's the hallmark of knowledge.
Such great video, very informative -- thank you so much! 💪🏼
Thank you for putting these up free. I used to watch a lot of pbs growing up
What a masterful documentary! Thanks so much
Thank you. I try and explain this process and theology it others in real life and get the “ok” face. Keep up the good work, and tell heckle fish to be careful. As a veteran on the US military, those guys are listening.
I’ve never been the least moved by the Mona Lisa, but looking at da Vinci’s sketches always moves me to tears. The lack of color in the painting except for green and weird skin tone turns me off; I’ve never felt that I was seeing the real painting, for some reason. So I don’t look at it. His sketches are an entirely different matter!
Apparently, I have very strong peripheral vision.
It was very fascinating. I especially like the rather detailed but easy-to-understand explanations. The only thing that bothers me is the veil and the dress in the re-created version. Were they so dark? Or were they impossible to re-create?
She's beautiful, and I find the affectations of critics who never really got a long look at her in peace and silence rather silly. A lovely masterpiece - but nobody ever addresses the two mismatched halves of the background.
Love this!! thanks for sharing I always love learning something new about this topic :)
In Painting , each layer adds Dimensions to the final Product...
Leonardo DeVinci was a Master at bringing out multiple Dimensions in all his works...
Am i the only one who COULD see where Mona Lisa's shoulder ends and the veil begins? Cause I was shocked to learn they couldn't. Loved and learned so much about Leonardo and art itself!
Writing a fantasy book series, where I use Leonardo from the years 1492-1495.
In my book he did not only change the world, he changed two.
I am inspired by Da Vinci’s work.
Me too - but not by the expert who babbling about it. Making themselves look as if they are the inventors.
Thank you for allowing us to watch this very informative and interesting show.
I would rename this 'Decoding the Mona Lisa'. He had so much more than just this and an hour isn't enough time to properly cover all of his genius.
I agree with you 💯%
Fantastic documentary, made with a lot of feeling
Da Vinci was painting like a 3d printer.. impeccable layer control with offsets done invisible to the eye... must have been painting inside his own head seeing the offsets..
his paintings have the oddest resemblance to each other but are beautiful to look at and i wonder what he was thinking while painting them.
what no one knows about this painting and why its so enigmatic is that she was dead , he painted a corpse that's why you get that eerie sensation when she looks at you . its just genius .
The part about peripheral vision was particularly intriguing, and made me wonder if science could find a cure for my RBF. Why are some faces just not able to convey a passive smile?
Nova is always amazing 👏 ❤
The greatest man that has ever been on earth , Leonardo❤❤
NOVA documentaries are a unique education that expands the consciousness of the audience.
I was looking for something to watch tonight once I saw this and it was Nova I knew I was in for excellent experience and a good watch no it never lets me down always excellent thank you. PBS Yes! I just love Nova
What if the varnish layer actually deteriorates and age into a yellowish and red color, turning the painting into a sunset scene, representing a full day. Exact to the same amount of time it would take for the pigments to deteriorate. That would really blow my mind. His understanding and knowledge of light was so ahead of it's time that I wouldn't be surprised. Leonardo Da Vinci was one of God's greatest gifts to the world.
I am one of the less intrigued by the Mona Lisa but I've never seen it in person. Perhaps it is the light infused in her eyes.
The more I looked at her portrait in this doc, though, interestingly enough her smile/mouth began to remind me of a cat.
Da Vinci was a genius.
I really enjoyed the digital color restoration by Cotte. Brilliant.
Leonard should be taught, in depth, in all schools around the world. His insight regarding the world around him has always fascinated me. I have always had my own thoughts and opinions about Leonard's art work. I have always thought that the Mona Lisa is the true face of Jesus, and that Leonardo painted the portrait as a woman, with that sly smile, to let us know that men and women are equal. In his day, he would have to hide his theories in his art because if he spoke his opinions verbally, he probably would have been killed. The rabbit hole is deep friends. I also believe in the ancient astronaut theory and feel Leonardo did as well from what is apparent in some of his paintings with the virgin Mary and UFOs in them❤. I would have loved to have talked to this brilliant man during his time.
The wokies would find something racist about him 🙄and then he will be shut away
Thank you so much for this !....I was engrossed from start to finish
Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath, artist, scientist, and inventor who lived during the Renaissance period. Born in 1452 in Vinci, Italy, he is widely considered one of the most influential figures in human history. Leonardo da Vinci's diverse talents and areas of expertise encompassed painting, sculpture, anatomy, engineering, architecture, mathematics, music, and more.
As an artist, Leonardo da Vinci is renowned for his iconic works such as the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper." His artistic style, characterized by his use of soft sfumato and realistic depictions, showcased his mastery of light, shadow, and perspective.
Sad fact, even with all these modern and advanced machineries and technologies it can only gives us a glimpse of how Leonardo da vinci logic and reasoning really works and none of these can truly crack his code.
I saw this painting when I visited the Lovre last year ,her eyes was so impressive I felt she was looking straight to my soul.
In my view da Vinci was likely more interested in learning, inventing, progressing his mind than fulfilling orders (of more paintings) from his various rich patrons 😂 Seems as fast as he'd learned or figured out something...his brain wanted new challenges. I think he may have "accepted" commissions sometimes only "to eat" while his main focus was probably draw to whatever else had captured his mind at that time. Perhaps, if he would have thought of it (it would off course likely have resulted in a very bad outcome for him, as he was far from anonymous) he could well have beaten, not only scientist by centuries, but Banksy in inventing the shredder 😂 13.46 he painted, researched and did all he did in his unique unpredictable way. That is his genius, he's not caught by current norms or boundaries of his "time". 14.07 exactly like this curator says "he felt free". 16.58 the fact that he was an illegitimate, gay, vegetarian is most likely what helped to set his mind free, if he'd listened to down putting comments so on...he wouldn't have set himself free. It was raising above and finding himself "carefree" that allowed him to become unique and so versatile. Not limiting himself to live beneath "any label" but following his own mind. 21.42 so wish that Leonardo could see this or be alive to both keep working but using new tech, and explaining his processes. Wonder what he would be upset with, view as "wrong" with current views of his work and what would make him ecstatic and what that could result in...mind blowing to imagine.
Thank you so much for this great documentary ❤
That smirk of a smile is super easy to explain... she was throwing down with DaVinci behind her husband's back. It's not some conspiracy, some code. It's just people being people.
EXTRAORDINARY! NOVA NEVER DISAPPOINTS.
NOVA is one the most impressive docu channel around!
Fascinating documentary -- thanks for this treasure!
While attending a trade school in Chicago, IL back in the late 1970’s, I was intrigued with the idea of capturing motion in my paintings. And without realising what I had done, accidentally shaped the eyes of those which were fixated on it and in some sort of trans could not look away from it? I wondered why? And it finally occured to me a subtle figure eight appeared to draw my eye upon the rolling wave, pushing a fishing boat forward to the left along with other boats unto the horizon and gulls in their natural flight pulling the eyes from the background into the foreground as the waves once more push the boat into the back ground? And discovered a pattern of post hypnotic suggestion that was acting on our brain’s ability to work independently of what we actually see when we look at a painting that kept the dpectator so involved that they could not get enough of this painting snd never got tired of looking at it to look at the other painters works? Because it had a flow of motion. Even my instructor was so facinated with the birds he paints never acheiving this pattern of motion acting on his visual perspective which he found so intriguing that he took me aside to share with me his facination with my art wotk I did as part of my classroom study under his directions. Eventually became my gift to my Dad on father’s day having paid my tuition. But the ssme effect was captured on Nova’s Documentary as I never saw the Monalisa in person. Only from photos. But as I watched this program I noticed my fixation nearly the same but it was not motion driven but captured my attention ? And could not understsnd why I could not stop looking at her face? Even though the varnish had darkened her natural appearance i was still drawn to her face?
True we can see many facial exprecions at the same time in her entire face ( it will change if we focus little by little from down to up )
Its really amazing , its like math , if we go from place x to y will give an expression , if we go from z to y gives another , etc
I never take attention to paintings but i get it now why they are called artists ( at least this guy was really amazing )
If we go from mouth to around her left side she gets a giant smile , i have seen moking smile 2 or 3 times already but cant find it anymore , how do we see it ?
Beautiful ❤ Thank you for posting.
Leonardo da Vinci the greatest artist of the world just fascinates me & many even after 500 years?
the greatest picture of Mona Lisa !
Thank You Very Much. I could write a book on all my thoughts. And the humor sprinkled in is so easy on the mind💙💜💚
Could you imagine what he could do if he was alive these days 🤔
One the best documentaries ❤
Total scientific test. You are correct, sir; there was definitely not a single test here of any note, including the things that you did.
Fascinating! Now I'm going to watch it again!❤
Good for you. Glad that you recognize that you need to go slow in learning.
A wonderful documentary !!!🏆🏆
Wondering why they have not cleaned the most famous painting in the world. It’s puzzling since the ability to do so is available to see what he originally painted.
I live next to Lake Huron and walk the trails everyday always wishing I could water color the lake and sky. This was so good. He was amazing 💙🌱🌷☀️
Why does LDV need to be 'decoded'? Can't we just accept that he was a brilliant artist, inventor et.al?
Perhaps because it's multi layered in many respects
Marvelous simply marvelous. The end result almost brought me to tears PEACE
More, more, more of this, please 👍😊
I didn't look at it long when visiting the Louvre - but that was only because the crowd of visitors in front of me kept me from getting any closer to the painting than about 5-6 meters. Very disappointing experience. I'd definitely have studied it for a long time if I'd had the chance to actually, you know, study it. :/
Wonderful! Thank you, Nova
His style and technique is so fascinating and it reminds me how i used to paint and fixate and adjust as i go
Did you just compare your self to Leonardo?😂
The great leanardo
@Sidney lol yes, i get inspiration from him. Idk why i worded it like that😆
Lots of knowledge to be learned.. great video.