Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mystery of the Mona Lisa

Arguably one of the most (or perhaps most) famous paintings of all time, the Mona Lisa has captured the imagination of millions since its creation. But why? Certainly, it is a fairly small, simple painting of a lady. Nothing is too revolutionary about it...or is it?

Painted in the early 1500's (some say 1503, others 1516, with a few other dates thrown about) by Leonard Da Vinci, the Mona Lisa is thought to be the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, wife of Francesco del Giocondo. However, the painting never made it to the family. Rather, Leonardo liked it so much he kept it, using it as a piece of propaganda in his travels, as a way to show potential clients what he could do.

 King Francois I bought the painting from Leonardo's assistant after his master's death, and hung it at Fontainebleau. Courtiers marveled at it. Contemporary sources were talking about the lady's mysterious smile even at this point. Mona Lisa was already becoming quite famous. in the 1600's, the Duke of Buckingham attempted to buy the painting. However, the King of France was begged by his subjects to not sell France's most valuable treasure. The Mona Lisa survived the Revolution and even had a short stay in Napoleon's bedroom before becoming a permanent fixture at the Louvre.

The Mona Lisa was quite revolutionary for its time. The use of light, color, and detail are unprecedented. Many paintings up until this point were colored drawings. Leonardo, however, perfected the sfumanto method of painting. There are no harsh outlines as before, but full strokes of paint, blended together to enhance light and color. Leonardo's paint strokes appear to be "invisible." Some researchers say he used a magnifying glass and painted strokes smaller than a pin head. Others say he layered paint upon paint, taking days to finish tiny sections of the painting.

Leonardo also slightly off-centered the lady's eyes and hands, causing an almost 3D affect which had yet to be seen. Mona Lisa appeared to be alive. According to Giorgio Vasari (1550), "As art may imitate nature, she does not appear to be painted, but truly of flesh and blood. On looking closely at the pit of her throat, one could swear that the pulses were beating."

Despite many today asking why the Mona Lisa is so famous, as it doesn't appear to be revolutionary, one must keep in mind that, in fact, it is. Louvre Curator Jean-Pierre Cuzin stated that, "The entire history of portraiture afterwards depends on the Mona Lisa. If you look at all the other portrait - not only of the Italian Renaissance, but also of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries...all of them were inspired by this painting. Thus, it is sort of the root, almost, of occidental portrait painting."

References from: The Mona Lisa: History's Most Famous Painting by Donald Sassoon.
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1 comment:

  1. When was in Paris in 2005, I couldn’t but visit Louvre. But to Louvre came with sound recording equipment which was provided kindly by French. I found “Mona Lisa” and I began to write down the sound background created by numerous visitors, come to look at a masterpiece. The logic was simple. I will dare to note that any masterpiece possesses property of the high-structured information field. The person is too, in the basis, field structure. There is a contact of two field structures – the person and a masterpiece. In it probably art force. Those sounds, which people published, being in a masterpiece field (conversations, a shuffling of feet, etc.), were very valuable to me, they korrelyativno were connected with it. Having subjected these records to the most difficult transformational processing, I managed to receive absolutely improbable soundings. They brought many into shock, – in these sounds accurate identification with “Mona Lisa’s” portrait was observed. I made similar records and at the well-known sculpture of Venus. As a result, on to basis of these records, at me three works – “Knowledge”, “Stream” and “Communication” were born.
    MONA LISA_VENUS(Опыт работы с шедеврами) .avi
    Structure of presented video: sound background at Mona Lisa – result of transformational processing of a background, a sound background at Venus – result of transformational processing of a background, a work “Knowledge” fragment (the transformed sounds are used only).