When you think of fine art or art that that is impactful to society, what pieces of work comes to mind? Of course, all artist names come to mind Rembrandt, Raphael, Michelangelo, and of course Leonardo DaVinci. I am willing to bet that not only do their names come to mind but a few of their works as well but very few pieces of art are as popular or as noticeable as The Mona Lisa. Why does the Mona Lisa intrigue her audience so emphatically?
History of Painting
Leonardo da Vinci worked on the Mona Lisa for four years. He always took it with him when he travelled, and he never signed or dated it. When he moved to France toward the end of his life. It was sold to his last patron, King François I, and remained in the private collection of the royal family for almost 200 years. In 1799 Napoleon came across the painting and commandeered it for his bedroom. It wasn’t until 1804 that the Mona Lisa displayed publicly in Louvre Museum it was not seen as particularly interesting, by the middle of the 19th century Leonardo’s merit as an artist began to rise. He was acknowledged as the equal of the two known Renaissance greats, Michelangelo and Raphael. This new interest in Leonardo as a painter drew attention to his few known works.
Another factor in the painting’s popularity is the fact that it was stolen and not returned for almost a month. Because the piece of art was stolen and publicly notarized in the newspapers it obtained more publicity than most pieces. At the time of the theft Leonardo da Vinci’s work of genius was far from the most visited item in the museum. Leonardo painted the portrait around 1507, and it was not until the 1860s that art critics claimed the Mona Lisa was one of the premium illustrations of Renaissance painting.
Technique and Popularity
The Mona Lisa also has been known to hold a certain mystique to her. There is debate who the woman in the picture is. Because of the expression on her face with the slight grin that seems to disappear some medical experts have also said that she looked malnourished, possibly pregnant, and because of the slight cut on her bottom lip a victim to domestic abuse. No matter who the woman was that posed for Da Vinci the way he portrayed her in the painting is the main factor that still amazes observers today.
Da Vinci exploited human optical illusion to create a unique smile through perspective and by using shadow work. His sfumato technique ensured that both the eyes and the mouth were prominent features. When a viewer looks at her eyes, the mouth is in peripheral vision, which sees in black and white. This emphasizes the shadows at the corners of her mouth, making the smile seem broader. But the smile lessens when you look straight at it. It is the unpredictability of her smile, the fact that it changes when you look away from it, that makes her seem alive and following you around the room. The landscape behind Mona Lisa’s head seems to be higher on the right-hand side than on the left. It is hard to see how the scenery would join up. This is subliminally unsettling: Mona Lisa appears taller, more erect, when one’s gaze drifts to the left than when it is on the right.
Another Interesting Piece
The Mona Lisa was not the most intriguing work of the time but because of all the questions about the painting and the artist’s known history of being eccentric, added with the actual theft of the work equals an unparalleled drama surrounding the work that gives the public no other choice but to be captivated. There is another work around the same time that I feel is equally interesting and that is Caravaggio’s painting “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” painted between the late 16th and early 17th. It is not as aesthetically pleasing to look at but equally intriguing just by pure awe factor. Depicts a young lady decapitating a man, as if she was defying him or showing him who is boss for once. I feel like the woman was abused by a man and this is her vengeance on him. The old woman next to her has done the same thing in the past and teacher her how to take her stand against the injustice of men. The use of red and dark colors draws the viewer to the light color skin of the people portrayed. Thus, demanding further evaluation of the work.