Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Looking At A Picture Of The Mona Lisa

Looking At A Picture Of The Mona Lisa

By Colin Andrews

In the halls of the Louvre in France, a painting of Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci's mysteriously enigmatic masterpiece, sits as a centerpiece of Renaissance Artwork. The source of her enigmatic smile, the setting of her stationed pose and the question of what Da Vinci might have originally intended have all been long standing questions regarding the portrait.

Since the Mona Lisa portrait was painted by Da Vinci in 1509, her image has fascinated everyone from Kings to Emperors, to even a museum employee turned art thief. Pictures of Mona Lisa have been turned into pop culture art by Warhol, Botero, magazine covers, and the symbol for all things classical and artistic. Copies and alternate versions are abundant, but only one true Mona Lisa painting sits in the halls of the Louvre.

Other Versions of the Mona Lisa Portrait

Understanding the painting has been the lifelong occupation of more than a handful of art scholars and painters. For that reason, many have come forward with what they claim to be an alternate, or the actual version of the Mona Lisa Portrait. In the early 1900s what appeared to be a copy of the Mona Lisa painting was found in the home of a nobleman in Europe. The second copy is clearly unfinished and has long been a source of some argument, with classical references to La Gioconda as a second version of the painting. As to who painted the Isleworth Mona Lisa portrait, no one can quite agree, though it is generally agreed that it was not Da Vinci.

Another version of the Mona Lisa was painted in 1616 or so and was gifted to Joshua Reynolds in 1790. He thought it to be the original painting for some years. It has recently been revealed to be a copy though. It is however a copy of the original painting, when the Mona Lisa was still vibrant with color and only 100 years old, giving a much better idea of what the painting looked like when first painted.

There are even more copies of the Mona Lisa in the nude. These alternate paintings have been disputed by historians as to their authenticity even as copies. The possibility that Da Vinci might have painted an original nude as well as the Mona Lisa we know today is still entertained today though.

Looking at a Picture of the Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa pictures as well as the painting have long been studied for clues as to her pose, her identity, and the meaning of Da Vinci's placement of the model. In recent years, X-Ray scans have revealed three different version of the painting in the same frame as it was revised over time, both in revision by the artist and in restorations by museum curators and artists after Da Vinci's time.

The painting itself though has long enthralled those that lay eyes on it. Da Vinci essentially introduced atmospheric perspective to landscape backgrounds and started the use of single-vanishing point perspective. The background itself is painted to appear timeless, something above and beyond the landscapes of Italy during his life. He manages to create a background with as dispassionate a temperament as the model in the foreground. Others have commented that Da Vinci had an affinity for combining his interests and his pastimes, infusing the landscape of his painting with well situated topography and weather activities, only a couple among thousands of his lifelong pursuits.

It is that distanced interest and utilization of such an ethereal, sfumato infused style in the background that so well compliments the image of Mona Lisa herself. Without any jewelry, showing her famously enigmatic smile and appearing as mysterious as any portrait subject in art history, Mona Lisa and the contents of the painting in which she is situated are equally confounding.

As for defining the picture of the Mona Lisa herself, entire libraries could be filled with the theories and conjectures that simple smile alone has created. In recent years, historians have gone as far as to utilize a computer program to analyze the smile to ascertain if it is "happy" or "ironic" or any number of different emotional responses.

Colin Andrews is the Director of Aspect Art Ltd, an on-line exporter of the highest quality reproduction oil paintings, To view all of Leonardo's paintings on-line please visit

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