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Markle, D.J., Jr. (1970). Note: Freud, Leonardo and the Lamb. Psychoanal. Rev., 57(2):285-288.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Review, 57(2):285-288

Note: Freud, Leonardo and the Lamb

Durward J. Markle, Jr.

Jr, In his study of Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud states that the famous Mona Lisa smile is explainable in the light of Leonardo's mother-child relationship.1 Freud attributes the smile to a combination of the child living on in the adult, and to the artist's taking the child's memory forward to a creation on canvas. Further, he attributes the retained childhood feelings toward the mouth as also evident in other paintings. He cites “The Holy Family” as an example. Freud asserts the Gioconda-like smile is repeated on the faces of St. Anne and Mary, who are looking down on the Christ-child playing with a lamb in a happy, quiet scene.

A question is raised with the view that this is a happy, quiet scene that has been represented; and does the “smile” reflect dear, fond, and satisfying memories.

The Gioconda smile is neither beckoning nor distant, warm and inviting, nor cold and deprecating. The smile is not the statement of Leonardo the man, rather it is the confused reminscence of the child living on in the artist-man.

The smiles Leonardo painted are neither kind nor harsh, but they are mysterious. They are mysterious because the child could not be sure of them. Because the child could not find their meaning, they remained confusing to the man. They were unfathomable because he could never be sure whether the smiles represented affection-satisfaction or desertion-rejection.

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