Leonardo’s magnificent failure and the Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, detail (Wikimedia)

This programme was produced in 2003 to mark the 500th anniversary of what many consider to be the most famous painting in the world. The mysterious smile of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” has intrigued viewers for centuries. But Dr. Roger Masters is more interested in the background of the painting, in particular, the winding river which he believes to be the Arno.

In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli were working together on a plan to re-route the Arno River and make Florence a seaport. This little-known meeting between two of the greatest minds in the Italian Renaissance sets the stage for a fascinating story of ambition and failure.

Producer: David Swatling

Broadcast: August 11, 2003