What is a masterpiece anyways and who depicted what makes a piece of art a masterpiece and what doesn’t? As stated in our book a masterpiece is a work that in style, execution and resonance far exceeds what other artists were doing at the same time. A masterpiece is also something that can always stand on its own and it will find admirers in any age. To me a masterpiece is something that accomplishes inner emotion in the viewer as the exterior emotion of the work of art is captured by the eye.
It is a piece that when gazed upon takes a piece of your heart with it. Something that could be admired for a lifetime and that over again. One that no matter how many times you have looked at it you find something new and beautiful each and every time. My three masterpieces that I have chosen are; the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, The Cathedral of Notre Dame, and last but, most certainly not least the Pieta by Michelangelo.
The Mona Lisa, so many things being said without a single word.
Mona Lisa Gioconda is who Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint and who became this beautiful masterpiece known as the Mona Lisa. Her mysterious smile which reveals a mouth that is showing only the faintest trace of a smile. It is also said that when she was being painted she was looking at something yet we have no clue to what that was and that alone adds to the mystery behind this piece.
There is an experiment that is done when looking at the Mona Lisa it is to cover the left side of her face which is said to show a warm, sensuous woman gazing provocatively at you.
Then to cover the right side and you will see an aristocrat is finding something mildly amusing. All of these test or analogies are made because, no one can truly tell what it is that the Mona Lisa is really thinking. Looking into her face says a million things all at once, what do you see? It is in Leonardo’s brush work, use of color and vivid imagination that this portrait became an existence of life, masterpiece. As a lover of the humanities and of life itself this will always be one of the pieces of art that was born a masterpiece and will go own in history as a masterpiece. The Cathedral of Notre Dame what a life long journey it has had. Its walls alone tell the story of the bible in its portals, paintings and stained glass. This cathedral was built dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Construction started in 1163 and it was not completed until roughly 180 years later in 1345. The Cathedral went through many changes through the years it was also where the crusaders prayed before leaving on their holy wars. As well as where polyphonic music was developed.
Notre Dame was robbed during the French revolution; citizens mistook statues of saints above the portals on the west front for representations of their kings, and in the midst of the revolutionary frenzy, took them down. They were found in the Latin quarter almost two hundred years later. Many of the cathedral’s other treasures were destroyed and only the great bells avoided being melted down. A masterpiece isn’t something that is created over night it takes days, months, and in a lot of cases years to be finished. It is something that tells a story.
The first designers had a dream, a vision of a monumental cathedral and they weren’t going to settle for any less. Even if that meant that someone else would have to finish their masterpiece, and that they were never to see the finished masterpiece in their life time. This unlike other pieces of art was not a masterpiece meant for the artist but, was meant for the viewers and followers for the years to come. Standing on the cathedral floor you could gaze for years and still not catch ever hidden treasure that this masterpiece has to offer. It would simply take a lifetime.
Last however my most emotionally thriving choice the Pieta by Michelangelo. This masterpiece took just under two years to create. Michelangelo was only twenty-two when he sculpted it. In Contrast to this piece he also created the Pieta Rondonine when he was only eighteen and he tried to destroy it before anyone could see it because, he thought it was unworthy of his most sever critic who he believed was God himself. This is why I truly look to Michelangelo as one of the greatest artist. He didn’t think of his work being judged by its viewers or so much to have cared about what they would say.
He created in order to please God. Can he make is work anymore heavenly? He reaches to the depths of your soul with his work and still he demands himself to go further. The Pieta is the image of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. It balances both the Renaissance ideals as well as classical beauty. Michelangelo’s depiction of this piece was far different of that of artists before him. He sculpts Mary not as an old woman but, as a young and beautiful woman and he also limited the crucificixion marks to very small nail marks and indication of the wound in Jesus’ side.
He is striving for more of the beauty and the sorrow that is felt in the face rather than the physical wounds and the age of the Mary which he strives for more of the purity. The Pieta was originally sculpted for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres funeral monument. Its first home was the Chapel of Santa Petronilla, a Roman mausoleum near the south transept of St. Peter’s which the Cardinal chose as his funerary chapel. The Chapel was later demolished. Shortly after the masterpiece was placed Michelangelo overheard someone’s remark that it was the work of another sculptor. This is where Michelangelo signed the sculpture.
He carved Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made it, on the sash running across Mary’s chest. It was the only work he ever signed. It was reported that later he regretted it. This is another trait that I like about Michelangelo as an artist. Even though his work is hard to misplace as someone else’s he doesn’t place his name on it. He lets the beauty stand on it’s on not on his name. For he knows he was a brilliant artist but, he wanted his work to speak for its self, and the Pieta did that and so much more. After numerous restorations because of attackers the Pieta sits in St.
Peter’s, just to the right of the entrance, between the Holy door and the altar of Saint Sebastian, and is now protected by bullet-proof acrylic glass. In conclusion I would have to say a piece of art becomes a masterpiece by the emotions captured by every glance, daze, and unforgettable sight experience by each and every person who is touched and changed in that single moment looking at the humanities masterpieces. My three choices profoundly touched me not just on the surface but, straight into my soul. They were born masterpieces and will remain in history until the day that humanity still exists as masterpieces.
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