The Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa
ArtistLeonardo da Vinci
TitleThe Mona Lisa
Size; 77 cm × 53 cm          Medium; Oil on wood panel                        
Date; 1503–1519               Location; The Louvre, Paris
Subject; Lisa Gherardini     Genre; Renaissance portrait art                                

Line; Flowing landscape, delicate portrait.

Tone are; Subtle and muted.

Texture; fine and smooth.

Shape; Organic, curvaceous,  angular

Contrast is; subtle.

Colour; Subtle, earthy, naturalistic

Description; 

The Mona Lisa is presumably the most well-known piece of painted artwork in the  world. It was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, the famous Italian artist, between 1504 and 1519, and is a half body commission of a lady named Lisa Gherardini. Her husband, Francesco Del Giocondo requested the work by Da Vinci just after the turn of the century. It is maybe the most studied piece of artwork ever known. The subject’s facial expression has been a source of debate for centuries, as her face remains utterly enigmatic in the portrait. It hangs behind non reflective glass in the famous Louvre in Paris.
 
Respected as the archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, it has been described as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world". The painting's novel qualities include the subject's enigmatic expression, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modelling of forms, and the atmospheric illusionism.

The Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, is the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. Lisa was from a respected family through Tuscany and Florence and married to Francesco Del Giocondo who was a very wealthy silk merchant. The work was to celebrate their home’s completion, as well as a celebration of the birth of their second son. The Mona Lisa is, like all of Leonardo's works, neither signed nor dated.

This figure of a woman, dressed in the Florentine fashion of her day and seated in a visionary, mountainous landscape, is a remarkable instance of Leonardo's  technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The Mona Lisa's enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame. As usual, Leonardo procrastinated endlessly over the painting, notably the position of the subject's hands, and continued working on it for up to twenty more years.

The Mona Lisa is a visual representation of perfect happiness and the landscapes illustrated are very important. Another slightly surreal feature of the Mona Lisa is her lack of eyebrows and eyelashes. The background landscape behind the sitter was created using aerial perspective, with its smoky blues and no clearly defined vanishing point.

Valued in excess of $1 billion, the Mona Lisa, perhaps the greatest treasure of Renaissance art, is one of many masterpieces of High Renaissance paintings housed in the Louvre.

It is a visual representation of the idea of happiness suggested by the word "gioconda" in Italian. Leonardo made this notion of happiness the central motif of the portrait: it is this notion that makes the work such an ideal. The nature of the landscape also plays a role. The middle distance, on the same level as the sitter's chest, is in warm colours. There are a winding road and a bridge. This space represents the transition between the space of the sitter and the far distance, where the landscape becomes a wild and uninhabited space of rocks and water which stretches to the horizon, which Leonardo has cleverly drawn at the level of the sitter's eyes.

Category: Art critique
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