The Second Mrs. Gioconda [E. L. Konigsburg]

Penulis/Author: E. L. Konigsburg (1975, 2003)
Penerbit/Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Cetakan/Edition: Paperback, June 2005
Kategori/Category: Juvenile Fiction
ISBN: 1-4169-0342-9

“Why, people ask, why did Leorando da Vinci choose to paint the portrait of the second wife of an unimportant Florentine merchant when dukes and duchesses all over Italy and the King of France as well, were begging for a portrait by his hand? Why, they ask, why?” (paragraph 1, page 3)

Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest artists on earth was a genious man. His eyes could capture what’s invisible, unnoticeable for others. He was at that time, employed by Ludovico Sforza (aka Il Moro), the Duke of Milan, to engineer almost everything Il Moro wished from gala festivals to monuments, war machines and castle walls. It was also Il Moro’s request that Leonardo to paint something on the wall of refectory, which then Master Leonardo decided to paint the famous “Last Supper”.Il Moro’s wife, Duchess Beatrice, was just a plain girl compared to her sister, the beautiful sharp-tounged Isabella or compared to Il Moro’s girlfriends. While Il Moro was occupied with other matters, Beatrice was shipped from one castle to another accompanied by guards. It was Leonardo and Salai who helped Beatrice to bring out her inner-beauty to be noticed by her husband and by the whole court. She knew she wasn’t pretty and she had learned to live with that knowledge. She had proven that she was intelligent, smart and diplomatic. Leonardo called her as “a woman of layer”. Furthermore, she made Il Moro proud by giving him two sons.

Gian Giacomo de’ Caprotti, called Salai, was Leonardo’s youngest apprentice. On Leonardo’s notes, he referred to Salai as a thief, a glutton, a mulehead. Yet, he never fired Salai and always asked him to accompany most of his journeys. Salai indeed was a boy (later a man) full of mischiefs. His wildness brought colours to Leonardo’s self-conscious, serious and perfectionist characters. Eventually, Salai was told by Beatrice that it was his “responsibility” to behave irresponsibly towards Leonardo because the Master needed it, whether he realised it or not.

The author believed that there was a relationship of chance between Leonardo, Salai and Beatrice that led the Master to paint Madonna Lisa Gioconda (or Monalisa), a second wife of an unimportant merchant. Monalisa wasn’t pretty but there was something inexpliclable about her smile, her look that made her familiar yet stranger to Salai. The one thing that makes this painting to be one of Leonardo’s masterpiece is because “the lady was the one unimportant element, the one importantly unserious element” (p.137) that Leonardo captured on his eyes and put it on his art canvas. This story, although was created using historical references, real people and real locations, is a work of fiction.

E. L Konigsburg is the author of the 1997 Newbery Medal winner “The View from Saturday”, 1968 Newbery Medal winner “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” and 1968 Newbery Honor book. Visit Scholastic’s Author Page for more information about this author.


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