Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance great or sloppy painter who fluffed The Last Supper and gave the Mona Lisa the pallor of a corpse? The latter view is that of Germaine Greer.
The feminist critic and arch-contrarian used a talk marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death to argue that he is vastly over-rated.
“‘I remember the first time I saw the Mona Lisa. I had come all the way from Australia. I go to the Louvre, get to the room, and see the most wonderful painting – which is the Raphael portrait of Baldassare Castiglione. He’s so warm, so immediate, it just rushes straight at you.
“But no-one was looking at it. They were all staring at this half-dead woman.”
Speaking at the Hay Festival, Greer said of the Mona Lisa: “The most important thing to me about this b—– picture is this woman looks as if she’s already dead. As for the famous smile, this is what I call ‘the Leonardo smirk’.”