‘La Joconde, Salle des Etats, Le Louvre’ Matthew Pilsbury

matthewpilsbury-lajocondesalledesetatslelouvreLast year I visited Paris Photo Show and (unsurprisingly) saw a photograph! I find it pops into my head at quite random moments. Like a good tune or an image from a film.

I have tried to track down the photographer and the title of the photo but have had no luck till now (today being one of those days when it kept bugging me).  I only had my own description of the photo as my aide memoire and thanks to photo.net http://photo.net/ (a great site for photographers – particularly because of the quality of its forums, friendly, informed and intelligent)… I found out the photographer’s name and the title of the image that has haunted me till today: it is by Matthew Pilsbury and entitled ‘La Joconde, Salle des Etats, Le Louvre.’
To me the image is not only a great photo in itself but captures the ritualised consummation  of the ‘Mona Lisa’ in the ever-developing ‘age of mechanical reproduction’ (Walter Benjamin 1936)
I enjoy the smallness of the painting; appearing vulnerable yet solid behind the jostling onlookers. As we penetrate the blur of the foreground we notice the arm that rises to the left of the painting and steadies itself to take a photograph. This is where Matthew Pilsbury decides to stop the exposure (that or he got lucky!) and thus the defining moment in the photo is the record of another photograph (one in the act of being taken) by an onlooker. This is essentially a photograph of a photograph. The most enjoyment I have ever had of the Mona Lisa (and I have stood in front of it) is through Pilsbury’s image.
To see more of Matthew Pilsbury’s work visit

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