Tuesday, October 05, 2010

500 Years of Enigmatic Smile

This great man of Renaissance was revered as a painter, architect, and in later years he devoted himself to scientific research. He believed that the artist does not need to know only the rules of his craft, but also the laws of nature. This he confirmed with hundreds of drawings and notes wishing to fit them in to encyclopedic form of debate. He was thinking of aeronautics, engineering, but music and theater have also been no stranger to him. Mona Lisa is not just the most famous Leonardo's work - some think its the most famous painting in the history of art. And five centuries have passed since Da Vinci painted this woman with enigmatic smile.

  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Leonardo was, as illegitimate son of notary Piero da Vinci's, born in Vinci, a place near Florence. The first secrets of his craft he learned in the workshop of a painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488). With unique gifts and all-round education, Leonardo convinced contemporaries that painters were a lot more than pure craftsmen, and he fought for the privileged position not only for himself but for all artists in general. Even when Leonardo was alive, the devotees of art have done all kind of things in order to posses even the smallest part of Da Vinci’s work. And Leonardo, brilliant mind, eager to be reflected in all aspects of art, but also and in the most diverse branches of science, hardly waited to start something new, so he often left unfinished many of his paintings. He will be remembered and for the fact that he was not reliable and that nobody never knew whether he’ll finish the job he started. Contemporaries remember him and as an extremely handsome man.

  • Enigmatic smile

What is the secret of Mona Lisa's smile? This will never be known for sure. Perhaps the answer is lying in the background? When the painting is carefully observed, it seems that nature depicted on the left side is "pulling" Mona Lisa’s eye down and the scene on the right as if lifts the other eye up. These opposing forces collide in the middle of a face, so there is an impression that the corners of Mona Lisa’s lips are trembling slightly. Is it just a hint of smile or will there emerge a wider smile on her slightly curved lips?

  • Sturdy embroidery

Opening of her dress is decorated with embroidery in the shape of series of knots and circles. Since Leonardo never put any detail on his pictures by accident, many try to fathom the meaning of embroidery that he perfectly painted.

  • Hills and fairytale

The narrow and winding rivers (or is it perhaps the road), which is making its way through rocky hills, in Leonardo's time meant symbolically the road of virtue and feminine chastity. Bare nature, in which there is almost no hint of human presence, is a common theme of Leonardo da Vinci, which the artist used on the painting "The Virgin of the Rocks."

  • Grand master

Mona Lisa's hair and veil on her head are blended with the background in sfumato - spread over and with the gentle tone, technique that Da Vinci perfected so much that even to his contemporaries it looked wonderful and unreal. He inflicted glazes in layers, as thin as cobwebs, so that it seems that the painting shines with some inner radiance. Brush strokes are not visible even under X-ray. Leonardo has worked long on this painting and, apparently, he did not separated from her until the end of his life. With what does La Gioconda radiate for five centuries now? No one has completely revealed her secret.

  • Pillars

On both sides of the painting, this unusual, and seemingly unnecessary, shape appears. It is believed that the painting was framed with pillars and that Leonardo originally intended to emphasize with this that Mona Lisa is sitting in the loggia - an open room with a porch. The plank on which Leonardo did this portrait is cropped on both sides and so the pillars disappeared.

  • Rafael

This drawing that Italian painter Raphael (1483-1520) made, probably, after he saw Leonardo’s portrait, supports the view of many that there were painted pillars on either side of Mona Lisa’s portrait.

  • La Gioconda

Who is the woman in the portrait? To most she is known as Mona (Madonna) Lisa (Elizabeth) or the wife of Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo. This rich Florentine asked Leonardo in 1503 to portrait his young and beautiful wife. This portrait is known, because of her surname, and as La Gioconda, especially in Da Vinci’s native Italy. Perhaps Leonardo did a portrait of mistress of the powerful Giuliano de' Medici? The artist probably started working on a portrait of some rich man's wife, but with a time this painting became of greater significance to him. Mona Lisa has become a symbol of women and perfect beauty.

  • Relaxed

The way in which the hands and their position are painted is just one of the details that contribute to the unique beauty of the portrait. By the position of hands it is seen that Mona Lisa is not only relaxed, these filigree painted hand accentuate and her elegance. When compared to Mona Lisa, all former portraits look stiff and unnatural. Da Vinci did something new: a young woman is relaxed, in completely natural position.

  • Sullen colors

Because of too enthusiastic cleaning of the painting, Mona Lisa’s skin is completely in a bit of sullen tones. Although the exact colors that Leonardo used are not known, it is known that, in comparison with his contemporaries, he worked with much darker tones.

  • Landscape from imagination

If you look carefully, it is clear that in the background there are two different landscapes. On the one on the right, the horizon is higher, and offers a view from the so-called bird's eye perspective, and in no way it could be connected with nature that Leonardo painted on the left.

  • Without eyebrows

The question that arises is: why Mona Lisa has no eyebrows? Leonardo, while the color was still wet, painted the eyebrows, but when the image was cleaned (it is believed that restaurateurs first time worked on her in 17th century), they disappeared. In order to clear the tarnished oil colors on stuffed board, some art historians say that restorers have used the wrong fluid and so the eyebrows were lost forever. There are and those who believe that great master deliberately left them out in order to further emphasize Mona Lisa's gaze.

  • The windows of soul

For Leonardo, the eyes are "the windows of the human body through which, as in a mirror, everything that is happening around wraps - he succeeds in this way  to realize the beauty of the world, and the soul, which is closed in human prison, can be satisfied and complacent.”

  • Sleeves

There is a difference between the sleeves and cloak that is carelessly spanned over Mona Lisa’s shoulder. While the creases on the sleeves are painted with broad and coarse strokes, the scarf is made softer and finer, which was a feature of Leonardo’s later period. Perhaps this is proof that the portrait that he began in 1503, Da Vinci did not finish until 1510. Or maybe, as already indicated, he worked on him until his death?

  • Gentle turn

On the armchair, parallel to the edge of the painting, Mona Lisa casually leaned her hand and as if she slightly turned her body and head toward the viewer.

  • Wasteland

The only signs of human presence in the painting are the road and the aqueduct. Inhospitable nature, with a hint of power of natural forces.

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