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Inspired by Leonardo: The Illusions of Leonardo

A drawing of the head of a clean-shaven man, facing the viewer. He has a down-turned mouth and a mass of curly hair interspersed with leaves (Hedera helix). In the top left corner is some illegible writing, and below, to the right, a lion's head is lightl

The bust of a man, and the head of a lion ©

Date: Tuesday 26 February 2019

Time: 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Price: £5

The expression in Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503-6) is ambiguous. This ambiguity is triggered by a visual illusion of the mouth - from some vantage points the mouth appears to turn downwards, generating a melancholic expression, but from other viewpoints, it seems to turn upwards, creating a more cheerful appearance.

It is remarkable that Leonardo played with this disagreement between the eyes and the brain centuries before scientists understood the mechanisms behind it. In this lecture, Dr Allessandro Soranzo from Sheffield Hallam University's Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics, shows how this visual illusion works.

Visit the Sheffield Museum event page