‘Rare Photograph’ Of Da Vinci & Mona Lisa In The 1500s Is *Gasp* AI-Created
By Mikelle Leow, 27 Nov 2023
Image generated on AI
With the internet, stories and images can travel across the globe in a matter of seconds. Sometimes, however, what seems like an incredible discovery may turn out to be an act of deception powered by artificial intelligence. Such was the case with an image that recently went viral, claiming to depict a “rare photograph of Mona Lisa and Leonardo da Vinci taken in Florence in 1504.”
That phrase alone suspends belief, but the picture looks so realistic that people seem ready to throw common sense out of the window. The image in question portrays a woman who appears slightly older than the famous Mona Lisa, leaning toward the iconic Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci. It’s styled to resemble an old, sepia-toned photograph, giving it an appearance of age and authenticity.
The mystery surrounding the identity of the Mona Lisa has fascinated art enthusiasts for centuries, potentially adding to the intrigue of this supposed historical find.
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As uncovered by fact-checking site Snopes, this illustration made its debut in June 2023 on Imgur. It then found its way to a fake history-based subreddit in May 2023, with the caption “Leonardo Da Vinci and Mona Lisa 1504.” From there, it took on a life of its own, spreading like wildfire across various social media platforms, including Facebook, TikTok, and 9GAG. Of course, it’s all a hoax and far from being a historical photograph.
A dead giveaway of the snap’s authenticity is in its background, where a rather meta painting of another woman in the same pose and clothing as the famous Mona Lisa, complete with oddly contorted hands, can be seen.
But more importantly, photography wasn’t invented until centuries later. The first successful photograph from nature wasn’t captured until around 1826 or 1827 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, using a device known as a camera obscura.
Mona Lisa and Leonardo da Vinci.— Ezer (@EzerRatchaga) May 26, 2023
Florence 1504. Put on your investigative hats. Real or Fake? pic.twitter.com/dpCZqEL41C
While internet sleuths were quick to put two and two together and identify the “photo” as staged, one person criticized that such images should come with AI labels as “too many gullible people… will take this as real history.”
Others played along, with one Instagram user noting, “Everything I’ve learned about photography is wrong.”
“Ah, they don’t realize that Da Vinci is a time traveler,” remarked a user on X (formerly Twitter).
“It’s obviously legit because the world was black and white back then—no color,” quipped one person.
“I’m sure Leonardo took it with his cell phone, too,” one user commented.
While the image’s virality can be attributed to the impressive capabilities of AI in generating realistic visuals, it also serves as a stark reminder of the potential for misinformation through such creations. In an era where discerning fact from fiction can be challenging, critical thinking and fact-checking remain essential tools in navigating the digital landscape.
[via Snopes, images via various sources]
This article was crafted with assistance from an AI engine, and has been manually reviewed & edited.
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