Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

Another camera-free attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge….

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Mona LisaLeonardo da Vinci led Michelangelo into his studio and across to the easel in the corner. He held out one hand toward the painting resting upon it, and while he didn’t actually say “Ta-Dah!” Michelangelo could almost hear the words inside his head.

“What do you think?” asked Leonardo.

“Mmm … not bad,” said Michelangelo.

“Not bad?” said Leonardo in astonishment. “Not bad? This is my masterpiece.”

“Seriously?” said Michelangelo. “Better than The Last Supper?”

“That’s just rubbish,” said Leonardo. “I painted them all sitting on the same side of the table, what sort of a supper-party is that?”

“But people love it,” said Michelangelo. “They analyse it, they think one of the guys is actually a girl, they even think it’s some sort of code.”

“They’re mixing me up with Jamesbondo,” said Leonardo. “He goes in for that sort of stuff. Anyway, what’s wrong with this painting?”

“Well, in the first place it’s a bit gloomy. Where is the background supposed to be?”

“Tuscany,” said Leonardo.

“What, sunny Tuscany? I can’t see the Tuscan Tourist Board being too impressed, you’ve made it look like Mordor on a winter’s day. And she’s a bit gloomy too.”

“What do you mean?” asked Leonardo.

“Well, why is she glaring at you like that?”

“That’s not a glare. That’s an enigmatic smile.”

“Is ‘enigmatic smile’ a euphemism for glaring?” asked Michelangelo. “Because she looks as if you’ve just told her that yes, her bum does look big in that dress. Plus she looks like a Goth girl.”

“No, she doesn’t,” said Leonardo.

“She does,” said Michelangelo. “Give her black fingernails and black mascara and she could go to a Metallica concert.”

“Is Metallica still going?” said Leonardo.

“Yes, he’s got a whole band now,” said Michelangelo. “A string quartet, apparently. And speaking of mascara, why has she no eyebrows?”

Leonardo stared at the painting. “Shit,” he said. “I’ll paint some on later.”

Michelangelo knew that he wouldn’t. He had known Leonardo for a long time, ever since the two of them (along with Raphael and Donatello) had been at school together. He knew that within seconds of the conversation ending Leonardo would be drawing futuristic sketches of helicopters, TV remote controls and the transporter room of the starship Enterprise, with the eyebrows already forgotten.

“Any other constructive criticism from someone who’s basically an interior decorator?” Leonardo said nastily.

“Yes,” said Michelangelo. “Where are her boobs?”

“Er, on her chest,” said Leonardo, confused.

“Yes, I know that,” said Michelangelo, “but you can’t see them, can you? Boobs are very popular at the moment -”

“Aren’t they always?” asked Leonardo.

“Well, yes,” said Michelangelo, “but I mean in art. Look at Botticelli and his Birth of Venus. Logically Venus should be a tiny baby at her birth, but he made her a grown woman, stuck a big pair of knockers on her front, and was able to sell the painting for ten thousand lira.”

“Isn’t that about three quid?” said Leonardo.

“Nah, this is 1506,” said Michelangelo. “The lira hasn’t collapsed yet.” He looked at the picture for a moment. “Who is she, anyway?”

“That’s a secret,” said Leonardo. “She’s supposed to simply represent ‘woman’.”

Michelangelo looked harder at the picture. “Ah, now I get it,” he said excitedly, “and you’re right, it is your masterpiece.”

“Er, why?” said Leonardo.

“Because you, the artist, obviously represent simply ‘man’, and like simple man have just come home from the pub four hours after you said you would. She’s ‘enigmatic smiling’ at you in that way that all we men recognise in such occasions, and, of course, we have your final touch of genius.”

“Which is?”

“She’s checking her watch.”

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