ACADEMIC INTEREST: Melbourne art historian, Dr Kate Challis, says fictional works encourage people?s interest in art, but it?s
ACADEMIC INTEREST: Melbourne art historian, Dr Kate Challis, says fictional works encourage people?s interest in art, but it?s

Study unlocks Da Vinci code

By RENEE REDMOND

rredmond@northernstar.com.au

DOCTOR Kate Challis has travelled the world researching the work of Leonardo da Vinci in some of the greatest libraries and art galleries, including the Vatican.

Now the Melbourne art historian, who specialises in Renaissance art, is touring Australia to discuss the theories put forward in Dan Brown's best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code.

Dr Challis' Decoding the Art of The Da Vinci Code talks hit the Northern Rivers this week with presentations in Byron Bay and Lismore.

Today she is at the Jetty Memorial Theatre in Coffs Harbour.

"In my presentations I propose other codes as well as those Dan Brown has put forward and then unlock them," she said.

"A lot of the information in Dan Brown's book is not factually correct. It could have happened, but there's no historical evidence to prove it. People need to remember it's sold in the fiction section of the bookstore."

Dr Challis said she loved how the book had encouraged people's interest in historical art.

"Dan Brown's book made the artworks human and tangible, not many books do that," she said.

"We're in a culture where we don't accept traditional religious teachings on the whole ? we like to ask questions, we value open-mindedness and being curious.

"But we still have spiritual needs and we enjoy the idea that there are 'truths' out there, waiting for us."

But Dr Challis said some things would remain a mystery.

"We rely on the Dan Browns of the world to get us interested and then scholars like me to challenge them and help people understand some of what's really going on," she said.

Master's images explained in their human contextBy KATE CHALLIS

Art Historian

Mona Lisa: This small portrait is one of the most famous images ever painted.

She is an icon and people all over the world are familiar with her face.

What is not widely known is that this painting most likely began in 1503 as a portrait commission of a Florentine woman named Lisa who was married to Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine silk merchant.

Interestingly, La Giconda (being a play on her last name) actually means 'she who smiles' or 'the smiling one'. So perhaps Leonardo painted her smiling as a code to reveal the identity of the sitter.No historical

evidence to

support book,

says historianBy RENEE REDMOND

rredmond@northernstar.com.au

DOCTOR Kate Challis has travelled the world researching the work of Leonardo da Vinci in some of the greatest libraries and art galleries, including the Vatican.

Now the Melbourne art historian, who specialises in Renaissance art, is touring Australia to discuss the theories put forward in Dan Brown's best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code.

Dr Challis' Decoding the Art of The Da Vinci Code talks hit the Northern Rivers this week with presentations in Byron Bay and Lismore.

Today she is at the Jetty Memorial Theatre in Coffs Harbour.

"In my presentations I propose other codes as well as those Dan Brown has put forward and then unlock them," she said.

"A lot of the information in Dan Brown's book is not factually correct. It could have happened, but there's no historical evidence to prove it. People need to remember it's sold in the fiction section of the bookstore."

Dr Challis said she loved how the book had encouraged people's interest in historical art.

"Dan Brown's book made the artworks human and tangible, not many books do that," she said.

"We're in a culture where we don't accept traditional religious teachings on the whole ? we like to ask questions, we value open-mindedness and being curious.

"But we still have spiritual needs and we enjoy the idea that there are 'truths' out there, waiting for us."

But Dr Challis said some things would remain a mystery.

"We rely on the Dan Browns of the world to get us interested and then scholars like me to challenge them and help people understand some of what's really going on," she said.



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