Leonardo DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa”
Leonardo di ser Piero Da Vinci was the painter of the most exquisite drawing to have ever existed “The Mona Lisa”. It was a portrait painted in the 16th century in oil on a poplar panel. Its dimensions are 77 centimeters in length and 53 centimeters in width or 30 inches by 21 inches. It is said that he began painting the Mona Lisa between the years 1503 and 1504 when he was still in his home country Italy. Lisa Del Giocondo was the woman in Da Vinci’s painting. Her smile can be described as both enigmatic and mysterious. Her facial expression has so much ambiguity that, only the painter, it is said, could have the words to describe it and give its meaning. Art critics world over give recognition to “The Mona Lisa” as the best painting to have ever been done. Da Vinci finished the painting a few months before he died in 1519; a gesture that suggests it was his greatest work. It took him fifteen years just to complete it.
In the year, 1503 Da Vinci began painting the “Mona Lisa” in Italy and after painting it for four years left it unfinished. He moved to France and three years later, he completed the masterpiece. It was bought by a French king, Francoise I and it moved from king to king and palace to palace during the French revolution. Da Vinci, having come from an Italian descent had made the painting from several sketches he had done before. The painting was meant to show femininity that was eternal in nature. This is shown by how Da Vinci uses Lisa, who is evidently not the most beautiful woman, yet Da Vinci opted to use her in his painting. This shows that the painting is not about beauty but about femininity. An art critic ones said that the woman is much younger than the ground on which she sits on and that she had been dead enough times to know the secrets of the grave. It is also believed that Da Vinci meant to make the portrait of his wife (Leonardo 33).
Da Vinci used a design known as a pyramid design that placed Lisa in a way to occupy a considerable space of the painting. She has her folded hands placed on the front corner of the portrait and the rest of her body faces in the same direction as her face. The light that makes her whole body glow, gives life to the surface of the painting. The seated female figure or the seated Madonna is painted in a way that creates an impression visually of distance between the woman and the observer. Lisa, the woman in the painting, sits in an upright posture, arms folded, with a fixed gaze at the observer that almost speaks to him. Her face is in the midst of much darker objects and due to its illumination; it immediately attracts the attention of the observer. The total effect that strikes one at a glance is the attraction to the face of a mysterious woman who wants us to keep our distance away from her (Leonardo 52).
The way Lisa’s right hand rests on her left one was a symbol used by Da Vinci to illustrate how virtuous she was. A closer look reveals that she has no wedding ring present yet she is someone’s wife. This also adds on to the virtue that is expressed by her posture. It shows that she does not need a wedding ring to be faithful to her husband. It shows just how faithful she is to her husband. Due to ageing, the frame of the painting was changed from the warped poplar frame to a flexible oak frame with beech crosspieces. This was to help put a permanent solution to the problem of warping that was constantly encountered due to humidity. The frame achieves this anti-warping effect even on the panel since it was designed in a way to exert pressure on the panel so as not to allow any warping at all. As it changed possession from time to time and as fashion and style changed, the frames of the Mona Lisa also changed according to the tastes of the different owners.
Leonardo Da Vinci was among the first painters to include the use of an aerial perspective in his work. The woman is seated on a raised platform with a large landscape receding to some mountains. There are also winding paths and a bridge that is viewed at quite a distance. The bridge is the only indication in the portrait of other human life in Lisa’s surroundings. The curves on Lisa’s clothes and hair are created in a style known as Sfumato and help in bringing out the valleys behind her. There are outlines, which are blurred, and the light and dark contrasts give a feeling of calmness that is characterized in Leonardo’s work. The portrait brings a sense of harmony between human nature and nature itself.
The painting gives me a mysterious feel and even in the event of its first sight, the woman appears to be happy and sad at the same time. On my opinion, the colors used in the painting appear to have a feeling of darkness and mystery as if to mean that the painting is not all that meets the eye. The painting definitely has some deeper mysterious meaning according to me. The paintwork is of high quality and the hand of Leonardo can only be described as marvelous. Da Vinci is trying to communicate to the observer about the mystery in femininity and the message is delivered superbly through the painting, the colors used, the enigmatic style and the name he gives it. However, the Mona Lisa smile could represent a lot of feelings, emotions or effects in the personal lives of people. Many questions arise in ones mind just by glancing at the portrait. The question I ask myself is what was Leonardo Da Vinci thinking when he was painting it? What thoughts ran through his mind? What was his feeling? In addition, what did he want to express to the viewers? The “Mona Lisa”, according to me, is really the best and the most mysterious work of art to have ever been created.
Leonardo (da Vinci). Mona Lisa: inside the painting. New York, NY: Abrams, 2006. Print.
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