The name ‘Mona Lisa’
It is not clear whether Leonardo was the one to name the painting ‘Mona Lisa’. Mannering (1981) states: "The name of the painting comes from Vasari, who tells us that the sitter was Madonna Lisa Gherhardini. Mona is simply a contraction of Madonna, meaning My Lady or Madam." (Mannering, 1981)
Regarding the history of the name Mona Lisa, it is indeed possible that Leonardo chose to give the painting no name at all. The reason for this could be the same reason why there are no hieroglyphs or images engraved into the Great Pyramid of Giza. As many Scriptures explain, the so called Father of Cosmos cannot be described, and thus He has no name. If someone would say for instance that Father (also Mona Lisa in this context) was a man – then logically it would mean that Father cannot be a woman. Also being ‘old’ limits out of the possibility of being ‘young’. With this understanding of extremes, one can go through all the adjectives in every language, and the further one goes, the smaller the original target gets. If one chooses not to use adjectives at all, the original target stays firm and perfect. That is why, it is highly possible that this Image of the All actually has no name at all.
Another claim is that Mona Lisa is a portrait of rich Francesco del Giocondo’s young wife. The name Mona Lisa has only traditional credibility, and the story of the name is “as much fragmentary and unclear as the history of Mona Lisa itself” (Vallentin, 1952). The Louvre Museum, in turn, says: “The history of the Mona Lisa is shrouded in mystery. Among the aspects which remain unclear are the exact identity of the sitter, who commissioned the portrait, how long Leonardo worked on the painting, how long he kept it, and how it came to be in the French royal collection.” (Musée du Louvre, 2013)
Whether invented by Leonardo or not, the name ‘Mona Lisa’ embodies a few interesting lessons. First, we will consider the name through the Hebrew tradition. Here, we will explore Mona Lisa not only through the language, but also in context of certain traditional tales – Kabbalistic and Biblical. These studies then lead us back to Alchemy.