Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, 1502-1519

 
Mona Lisa by Da Vinci
 

High Resolution Prints related to "Mona Lisa"

 
 
Mona Lisa, c.1507
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Mona Lisa
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Mona Lisa, c.1507
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Mona Lisa, c.1507
Da Vinci

One of the most famous paintings in the history of art, Mona Lisa is the most carefully secured piece in the Musee de Louvre, Paris. "Mona Lisa" was painted by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci over the course of 17 years (1502-1519). Now removed from its original framing, for conservation puposes.

Mona Lisa is seated in an armchair on a loggia in front of a stone parapet from which rise two columns, forming a framework for the picture. In the background, is a misty, fantastic landscape.

The composition is the same as in Baldovinetti"s Madonna (PL. 98 A) - a pyramidal mass, with a strongly defined central axis, occupying most of the canvas and set over a distant landscape. This mass is so sensitively placed in reference to the frame that, change the distance ever so little between the top of the head and the upper line of the frame, and the effect is not the same. The definitely felt axis falls from the Mona Lisa"s forehead along the nose to the point where the hand crosses the arm, connecting the two masses of interest, the face and the hands.

The outline of the figure is of almost geometrical simplicity, the curve of the head forming a sharply defined semicircle. Mona Lisa is very simply dressed. Her hair falls in loose ringlets and is covered by a thin veil. She wears no ornaments and her dress has but a simple border around the neck.

She is seated with the utmost ease; yet the erectness of the figure and the slight turn in the body contribute to the effect. The whole figure is realized as an organic structure, existing in space. Mona Lisa"s face is modeled with the utmost subtlety, but not realistically, with the emphasis of definite traits of character. Over the delicate surface, especially around the mouth and eyes, ripples almost imperceptibly an elusive expression perhaps a smile, which makes this face an enigma. Just as exquisitely modeled and just as important are the hands - delicate, aristocratic hands suggesting a life of luxury and ease; and their soft roundness is all the more emphasized by the crumpled satin sleeves.

From the figure the eye wanders off into the landscape, reaching far into the distance, fantastic, mysterious, misty, and dreamlike. The vague outlines of the rocks and waters contrast with the strongly expressed head, but at the same time are in harmony with the enigmatical, fleeting expression of Mona Lisa"s face.

A difference between the Mona Lisa and most of the noticeable paintings of the Renaissance is to be seen in the painting of the shadows, the greater softness of outline, and the more gradual transitions from light to shade. This is due to the oil technique. The Florentines had been experimenting with the mixing of pigment with oil since the middle of the fifteenth century, if not earlier, and had found that with it they could obtain not only richer color but bolder brushwork and deeper shadows.

So, by the time of Leonardo, we begin to see the incisive outlines that distinguish the tempera technique become blurred and indefinite the figure appear to reproduce more faithfully the enveloping light and air; and a shifting of the emphasis upon visual appearance rather than upon decoration. This very indefiniteness harmonized with Leonardo"s desire to express fleeting, momentary feelings, and the mysteries into which his curiosity led him to delve.





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