Art Through The Centuries : Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci .
Art Through The Centuries : Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci .
The period of High Renaissance has an impeccable reputation of being one of the most notable periods in Italian art, as well in the history of world art. The Renaissance or ¨rebirth¨ brought new technical innovation and creative elements. , such as wood panels, oil on stretched canvas, new forms, light and shadows, optical effects, and illusion of depth known as ¨ perspective¨. Between about 1495-1527 Rome became the artistic capital of Europe. The Renaissance was born, and a new style was invented. The High Renaissance is a victorious period of the sixteenth century in the history of art, which produced a cluster of outstanding geniuses . One of them is the great artist and scientist - Leonardo da Vinci. ¨What we have to say, therefore, can never be a full explanation of the great period which is called the High Renaissance, but we can try to see what the conditions were which made this sudden efflorescence of genius possible¨ (Gombrich 220).
The High Renaissance masters became classics . The artists represented the classic phase of Renaissance art. It was one of the shorter periods ( 1490 -1527) , but one of the more productive and victorious period in Italian art. It was an outstanding period for the history of art, which brought
such great artists as Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Donatello, Giorgione, Bramante, Correggio, and Leonardo da Vinci. The works of High Renaissance created many advanced and difficult elements, which challenged the ingenuity of Renaissance scholars. The Renaissance designed the beauty of proportions, the spaciousness of interior and the imposing grandeur of ensemble. The High Renaissance set new standards in many ways. The use of perspective , which helped to converge the single vanishing point, and triangular composition established in painting helped to achieve the desired result to diverge from stiff portrait to a relaxed posture of a sitter in a three-quarter pose . The knowledge of anatomy were crucial to achieve it , and Leonardo da Vinci accomplished it with perfection.
Leonardo da Vinci was one of the best artists of the sixteenth century . Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was born in Florence, Italy. He received education in mathematics, geometry, and Latin. Around 1460 he attended a studio of a famous painter Verroccio, and after seven years of training he became an apprentice. During those years he met other famous painters such as Botticelli and Perugino. Leonardo da Vinci was known as a genius, or as a ¨universal man¨, and the colossal outlines of Leonardo da Vinci´s nature can never be more than dimly and distantly conceived. During his childhood he was already recognized as a gifted boy. Later in life Leonardo da Vinci became well known as a polymath, and many historians and scientists will regard him as ¨Universal Genius¨. Leonardo da Vinci is known for his great ambition in his painting, as well as in his scientific endeavors, such as processes of nature, physiology and psychology .
Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be the most talented person ever to have lived, since he had knowledge in multiple areas such as anatomy, engineering, astronomy, geology, mathematics, botany, architecture, sculpture, cartography, literature, and of course painting.
At the same, Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most outstanding artists. He certainly was a great observer of nature and clearly could recognize any problem that was posed to him . He always could match the drawing with harmonious composition. The only artist who figured out that it should be something mysterious , something unfinished, in order to intrigue the beholder . In Leonardo da Vinci´s art the viewer can see that outlines are not always quite clear, and forms are left a little vague. At time it seems that the lines are disappearing in the shadows.
One of the most famous works of Leonardo da Vinci is a portrait of a Florentine lady - ¨Mona Lisa¨ . Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa made a revolution and became an icon of the High Renaissance. Mona Lisa was painted in 1503-07, oil on panel. Portraits were rare. Only wealthy people could afford such expensive artwork as a portrait. To paint a good portrait could take years , and the sitter could spend days and months posing, while the artist could catch the likeness of the model. The portrait could tell about the position in society . The identity of Mona Lisa is still in doubt, since many legends surround that art work . It is still a big question for everyone who this lady on the portrait really is.....The art has also another name, ¨La Gioconda¨ . One of the versions is that it was the wife of the banker Zanobi del Giocondo (Gardner 452) . Many people, including art experts, find it difficult to understand whether this painting is portraying a real person or it was just an imagination of the skillful artist. Even such extreme legends exist that it was a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci! By some unknown reasons the portrait was neither delivered to the Lisa del Giocondo, nor to her husband
who commissioned the portrait , and Leonardo da Vinci kept the portrait . It took many years before he finished the portrait. Da Vinci always had the portrait with him whenever he traveled somewhere, until the King Francois I bought the portrait and then passed it on to the Louis XIV. After the death of Da Vinci the portrait became the property of royal collection. Many years after around 1804 the portrait was located in Napoleon´s bedroom until it was relocated to the Louvre. Many centuries have passed before the portrait became the property of people, and was relocated in Louvre museum, Paris.
As an artist Leonardo da Vinci is recognized as one of the best masters of the Renaissance period. Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece ¨Mona Lisa¨ is the most known portrait in the world , and known as the most recognized painting of the High Renaissance . Amazing work , sophisticated talent, and elaborate tricks used by Leonardo da Vinci makes viewers have the feelings that Mona Lisa looks
alive. The corners of the mouth, and the corners of the eyes Leonardo has left deliberately indistinct , by letting them merge into a soft shadow (Gombrich 220) . The ¨Mona Lisa¨ is located in Paris, France, and even today millions visitors from allover the world want to see the famous masterpiece. The Louvre attracts around 10 million visitors a year and can accommodate some 30,000 to 50,000 people a day, 80 percent of whom come to see the Mona Lisa (ArtNet News).
Because of Leonardo da Vinci´s multiple interests in other subjects such as anatomy, biology, engineering, medicine , and many more, he painted total of only 30 paintings, despite that his works have been regarded as among the great masterpieces. Da Vinci was a genius whose powerful mind will always remain an object of wonder and admiration . Janson : ¨Why, among all the smiling faces ever painted, has this particular one been singled out as mysterious?¨ It feels as if her eyes look through your mind. At times she looks happy and at a different angle she looks sad . ¨La Gioconda ¨ means
¨happy¨ , which is why we are at some point confused, because her modest smile and sad eyes make us feel the opposites, the sadness and the joy at the same time . Mona Lisa´s expression seems mysterious, and continues to puzzles viewers imagination . Mona Lisa´s unproven identity became endless source of investigations. Leonardo da Vinci succeeded to keep ongoing fascination of Mona Lisa´s personality for centuries.
The famous smile of Mona Lisa is still not understood. To escape seriousness of a formal portrait , Leonardo da Vinci invited musicians and jesters to make Mona Lisa smile. Before sixteenth century, having a smile on a portrait was a sign of frivolity .The sitter was not allowed to express any feelings. Nevertheless, Leonardo da Vinci knew how to achieve this effect even without clearly showing it. The faces on the portraits were painted in very strict manner and do not show any facial emotions. That is why Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa made a revolution and became an icon of the Renaissance. The Mona Lisa's mysterious eyes look straight at the viewer at any angle , and her mysterious smile inspires the viewers of all times. Da Vinci paid attention to numerous details of his painting, including the posture of the sitter in three-quarter view, the sitter´s hair, the tresses placement of her hands, the clothing, the veil, the folding of the fabric, and indeed, an amazing landscape of rivers and mountains on the background added a complete harmony to the portrait.
Mona Lisa´s expression with coy smile creates mystery, and continues to puzzles viewers imagination. It seems at times that Mona Lisa smiles , and than again the observer can notice the sadness in her smile. The smile, too, may be read in two ways: as the echo of a momentary mood, and as a timeless, symbolic expression, somewhat like the ¨Archaic smile¨ (Gardner 218). This is the great work of a skillful master!
The delicate masterpiece is so perfected that it seemed miraculous to the artist´s contemporaries. A man who is the epitome of the artist-genius , Leonardo da Vinci has become a kind of wonder of the modern world .
Leonardo da Vinci´s famous invention, which the Italians call ¨sfumato¨ (Gombrich 221). ¨Sfumato¨ is the layering of thin, translucent glazes without lines or borders . If one were to look at ¨Mona Lisa¨ , one may understand details of its mysterious effect. The viewers can see how the master used the means of ¨sfumato¨ . The blurred outline and mellowed colors that allow one form to merge with another and always leave something to our imagination. Thanks to Leonardo da Vinci´s invention the viewers never clearly can guess the mood of Mona Lisa . Landscaping , shadows, posture, position of hands , and of course her deep eyes and smile make the viewer wonder what exactly the artist wanted to tell the observer .
Later in life Leonardo da Vinci devoted himself more to the scientific interests. Behind the great artist was hiding a great scientist of the sixteenth century. The range and productivity of Leonardo da Vinci´s mind carefully preserved in his sketches and notebooks. During his life Leonardo da Vinci produced many writings and drawings. Thanks to his pupils and admirers, many of his notebooks and sketches are saved. He was a genius with a powerful mind, which makes us admire him even today in spite of the fact that hundreds of years have passed. Leonardo da Vinci basically was interested in every subject available in nature.
Leonardo da Vinci was interested in medicine and the human body . He dissected more than
thirty corpses and was one of the first to probe into the growth of the child in the womb. The evidence of that is his famous studies of the fetus in the womb. The sketches of the growth of the fetus in the
womb were so accurate they could teach embryology to medical students today (Strickland 35) . He also discovered the circulation of blood vessels .
Da Vinci´s mind was constantly searching, and he anticipated many discoveries and inventions for centuries ahead. At the same time he was researching the laws of waves and currents. Da Vinci was dedicated to his dream to devise a flying machine by observing the flight of birds and insects. He was analyzing rocks, clouds, the growth of trees and plants. At the same time Leonardo da Vinci was afraid that his discoveries would be found heretical. That is why many of his notebooks were found after his death. One interesting fact is that Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed and was writing his notes from right to left so that it could be read only in a mirror. Leonardo da Vinci even anticipated the theories of Copernicus, since it was found in his notes that ¨The sun does not move¨ (Gombrich 218).
The great master of the High Renaissance such as Leonardo da Vinci became synonym for ¨perfection.¨ In fact, there is a real question as to whether anyone before the 20th century thought much about the Mona Lisa at all (CNN News). Indeed, the masterpiece of Mona Lisa with its best historical sides, background, and phenomenon of the portrait which has intrigued viewers for centuries , and had influence on the High Renaissance . Leonardo da Vinci set the standards for Renaissance , and established the rules for portrait painting. Although many centuries have passed, and the portrait of Mona Lisa is well known art work in the world , but people and art experts are still
interested and fascinated by this great work and the incredibly skillful artist such as Leonardo da Vinci. It is true that it took centuries before Mona Lisa became an icon of the Western painting, and was recognized as a masterpiece with its quality and perfection. The monumentality of composition became the most desired painting to be seen by the millions of people. Famous critic Walter Pater
described how he sees the figure in the painting: "older than the rocks among which she sits" and who "has been dead many times and learned the secrets of the grave."
We can either like or dislike Leonardo da Vinci´s paintings, but what we all can do is respecting the fact that his art has existed already for more than five hundred years . Leonardo da Vinci produced a clever , outstanding, and magnificent masterpiece , which is the world´s most famous portrait - ¨Mona Lisa¨! A great scientist, and artist - Leonardo da Vinci was the most talented person to ever have lived! Leonardo da Vinci´s works still influencing generations of artist! The grandeur of the High Renaissance era is associated with the Mona Lisa. Crowds of people are still in temptation to see, to come closer , to feel the mystery of Mona Lisa , and to understand what exactly Leonardo da Vinci wanted to tell to the viewers!
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