This Da Vinci code stuff just won’t die: Bold claims for old painting

Neglected portrait could be new ‘Da Vinci Code’ painting – Features.

For years, Fiona McLaren ­ignored the old painting, which was a gift to her father from a grateful patient, but ­after embarking on a painstaking analysis of the portrait, she now believes it to be a final, unfinished painting by the Italian Old Master.

Her book, Da Vinci’s Last Commission: The Most Sensational Detective Story In The History Of Art, is being published to coincide with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which starts next week. According to McLaren, the painting also contains clues indicating that Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code was actually based on historical truth not just the inventive fiction that Jesus Christ had a love affair with Mary Magdalene and their relationship produced children.

She argues that the painting was commissioned by King Francis I of France and is not a painting of the Madonna and Child but of Mary Magdalene cradling either Jesus as an ­infant or Jesus’s own child.


So much for the hope this whole Da Vinci Code lunacy would go away after the popularity of Dan Brown’s book diminished. But some people still cling to it as if it’s ACTUAL HISTORY.

As Professor Martin Kemp of Art History at Oxford University says in the article, there are two aspects of these outrageous claims.
First, what is the picture of and who made it? That’s rather important as this is not, at the time being, validated as a true Leonardo da Vinci piece. Secondly, why would da Vinci (and others of the era) paint pictures with codes in them that people wouldn’t decode for centuries? Seems rather pointless, doesn’t it?

Why was this not authenticated FIRST?

It’s hard not to just assume that this woman is trying to create publicity for her book. There is no good evidence for such claims.

  14 comments for “This Da Vinci code stuff just won’t die: Bold claims for old painting

  1. Jim Price
    August 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Evidence is the LAST thing this woman wants. It would eviscerate her claims. It’s a very common scenario. Make up a load of crap and cash in before your fraud is exposed. Even after it’s been unmasked she will continue to have believers and sell books. It’s all about money.

  2. Gareth
    August 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    This is risible to anyone who knows anything about painting, there are Far Side cartoons which look more like Leonardo’s later style than this.

    But then this isn’t for art historians is it. So looking at it that way, while some of us may be exasperated, there are plenty of people who enjoy this sort of nonsense, plus the author might make a bit of money. There are less ethical ways she could do it. Pretty harmless I’d say.

  3. August 7, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Not really fair to the layman though, is it? They will assume there’s something to this. I really dislike the idea that only those ‘in the know’ get to chuckle and disregard this sort of thing. Those very people have an ethical responsibility to point out this kind of bull for what it is. The hardcore believers won’t be affected, but the majority can be.

    You can ‘enjoy this sort of nonsense’ whilst still acknowledging that it has no place in real history. It’s called ‘fiction’, which, after all, Brown’s book was.

  4. snoma
    August 7, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    I’m no art expert but yes, I agree, this doesn’t strike me so much as a lost da Vinci treasure.

    Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the greatest artist in human history, it just seems unlikely that any of his works would go this long without being noticed.

    Not that it’s impossible, just seems highly implausible.

  5. snoma
    August 7, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Also, thanks BSHistorian for calling our site a goldmine!

  6. August 7, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    But The Da Vinci Code is based on historical fact – there was a Dz Vinci, there are codes = proof positive!

  7. snoma
    August 7, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Are you being sarcastic and/or funny?

    It’s hard to read tone in a written format like this.

  8. Geoff
    August 8, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    Obviously this is from DaVinci’s paint-by-numbers period.

  9. August 8, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    Let me just say I am certain Da Vinci had a code in his nose at least once.

  10. August 8, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    Damn straight! It may seem harmless, but the more people become accustomed to this type of lax thinking the more likely they are to readily accept things which have a serious detrimental effect on their lives and on the world in which we live.

  11. Gareth
    August 8, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I accept what you say, but the layman always has the option to take an in depth look at this subject via reliable sources if they want to. I really do think it’s horses for courses.

  12. August 17, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    We’re going in circles now. Said laypeople isn’t in a position to take an depth look without blogs like this raising awareness. No-one’s suggesting we call the cops!

  13. August 17, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Sigh. *aren’t*, not ‘isn’t’. Brain failure.

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