I’m happy to share with you a video link to a presentation from last year’s Trans State Conference. This one features Per Faxneld’s presentation, Leonardo the Magus, Mona Lisa’s Mysterious Smile, and the Artist Initiate. The posted description sez:
“The presentation will discuss ideas about Leonardo da Vinci and his famous painting La Gioconda (popularly known as Mona Lisa) that were widely held in both occult and non-occult circles during the nineteenth century: Firstly, that Leonardo himself was, in some sense, an esotericist (a notion there is no basis for in historical documentation from his own time). Secondly, that La Gioconda is a mysterious, sinister object (again, an interpretation reflecting nineteenth-century anxieties and fascinations, rather than something present in the original Renaissance context). To occultists, this object was moreover filled with magical energies, and contained hidden signs that the initiate could decipher and employ for his or her spiritual development. This ‘esoterization’ of the painting and its creator was, the paper will demonstrate, part of a broader tendency to view artists, both historical and contemporary, as magicians and mystics in some sense at this time. Hereby, art became integrated into the endeavors of various esoteric groups and thinkers, and an originally secular Renaissance work like La Gioconda was absorbed into a nineteenth-century ‘occulture’.
“Per Faxneld obtained his PhD (2014) in History of Religions at Stockholm University, with the thesis Satanic Feminism: Lucifer as the Liberator of Woman in Nineteenth-Century Culture, (subsequently re-published by Oxford University Press in 2017). He has published extensively on esotericism in academic journals and books, and also contributed to exhibition catalogues from several art museums. One of his main research interests is the relationship between esotericism and literature/visual art. Faxneld is an associate professor/senior lecturer at Södertörn University, Stockholm. In his spare time he runs the bibliophile small press Malört, producing exclusive illustrated editions of historical esoteric authors like Jacques Cazotte and Stanislaw Przybyszewski.”
Have a look: