No, this wasn’t shot at the Louvre. No, this wasn’t shot in Paris either. In fact, it wasn’t even shot in Europe.

This rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, was on a Melbourne wall some weeks ago. But it wasn’t a framed painting – it was actually a poster to publicise the well-patronised da Vinci exhibition in November 2009.

The first time I saw the poster, I shot just the face, but I thought it looked like a simple photograph of the painting. I wanted something different, something that would show it was NOT the original.

So a couple of weeks later, I went back to the same spot and realised the poster had a slim red border, much like “Time” magazine. Furthermore, it had a series of stars (quite possibly denoting excellence or a great review) down the bottom of the print area.

I framed my shot and just waited. You see, I was waiting for a pedestrian to walk between the poster and my camera. Not just any pedestrian – it had to be someone of a certain height, so as not to obscure too much of the Mona Lisa herself.

Am I imagining it, or is the Mona Lisa smiling a bit more mysteriously than usual?

I do not crop, enhance or post-edit my images in any way. Shot with a Pentax K100D, using a Sigma 70-300mm lens. F6.7, 1/180 sec, ISO 200, focal length 133mm.

Featured in AN OUTCAST SOMEWHERE, February 2010.

Featured by my co-host in PASSIONATE ABOUT VINTAGE, May 2010.



melbourne, time, stars, exhibition, southbank, leonardo, mona lisa, leonardo da vinci, la giaconda, david mcmahon, loner lisa, time magazine, red border

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  • Linda Bianic
    Linda Bianicover 4 years ago

    hahahhahaha hh hhaah ,, David,, you get better and better…. well done on recreating your idea,,,,,, great explanation!!!♥

  • Many thanks, Linda. So glad the humour worked – and the attempt to present something different!

    – David McMahon

  • shadowlee
    shadowleeover 4 years ago

    hey thats me there…not the girl …mona

  • I thought I recognised you!

    – David McMahon

  • shadowlee
    shadowleeover 4 years ago

    yes I still got that famous smile but the cracks are showing a little more these days

  • Ah, but it’s the smile that REALLY counts!

    – David McMahon

  • Brandie1
    Brandie1over 4 years ago

    Fantastic image.
    It is so realistic.
    David, I was green with envy till I read it was just a poster.
    The Mona Lisa is one portrait I would give anything to see.

  • Thanks very much, Brandie. The first time I saw (the real) Mona Lisa in the Louvre, I was disappointed that it was smaller than I imagined.

    – David McMahon

  • Betty Mackey
    Betty Mackeyover 4 years ago

    Mona is smiling broadly here — must know something we “moderns” don’t understand.

  • I think she knows a lot of things that we don’t – you’re absolutely right, Betty!

    – David McMahon

  • sfmilner
    sfmilnerover 4 years ago

    Greetings David; Nice touch going back for this capture. I don’t know if she is smiling more, but she seems to be looking hard at the passerby. WELL DONE!

  • Thanks, Steve – I was lucky the poster was still there, because there was about a fortnight (or three weeks) between the two shots.

    – David McMahon

  • Robert C Richmond
    Robert C Richmondover 4 years ago

    Great concept, presented effectively. Like it.

  • Great to know you liked the concept and the presentation. Thanks for the comment.

    – David McMahon

  • CeePhotoArt
    CeePhotoArtover 4 years ago

    Your cohosts,
    Cee and Chris

  • Thank you, Cee and Chris.

    – David McMahon

  • PhotosByG
    PhotosByGover 4 years ago

    Congratulations! Your work has been featured in “An Outcast somewhere ….”

    Your work was chosen because it was of a very high quality and it captured exactly the sort of art we are looking for in this group.

    Please keep up the great work and we hope you continue to add more of your excellent work to this group.

  • Thanks so much, Graham. Great to know you liked this unusual shot. I’m very honoured.

    – David McMahon

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