“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” -Oscar Wilde
‘Mona Lisa’ (1503-1506) by Leonardo da Vinci:
The Mona Lisa is arguably the most famous piece of art in the world and is currently being housed at the Louvre. The picture I took isn’t very good- but there were so many people crowded around it it was hard to get a good look never mind a picture without someone’s head in the way and the green dot is the flash off the bulletproof glass.
The Mona Lisa (or “la Gioconda”) is currently valued at about $1 billion (and oh my gosh that’s a lot of money) and is depicted in many TV shows, films and books- for example, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
A bit of history on this amazing piece of work:
The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) during he high renaissance. Now, Leonardo was known as a master of oil painting and is thought to have perfected the chiaroscuro (the use of shadow to create 3D effects) and sfumato (using different tones to create a transition from light to dark).Now, despite being very well known for the Mona Lisa, da Vinci only completed a handful of art pieces. For example, the Vitruvian Man, and the Last Supper.
Back to the Mona Lisa. This painting is an example of da Vinci’s use of sfumato, as seen through the difference in tones between her skin and her surroundings. But this isn’t why the Mona Lisa is so well known, it’s famous due the elusive smile- da Vinci made this possible by subtly adding shadow to the corners other bought so that the exact nature of her smile cannot be determined.
Either way, the Mona Lisa is a great work of art, painted by a great artist. In my opinion, there’s too much emphasis placed on this single painting and there are so many other amazing and beautiful paintings found in the Louvre that deserve the same amount of recognition as the Mona Lisa.
The first time I saw the Mona Lisa, I was actually taken aback by how small it was (it was tiny!) and how many people were crowded around it trying to take selfies with it. I think that due to it’s fame, the Mona Lisa isn’t appreciated as it should be, and instead people are taking selfies to prove that they saw it instead of looking closely at the art itself. I mean, the first time I saw it, I wanted to do the same thing, but the second time I saw it, I began to appreciate it (in case I sound condescending or anything, I’d like to clarify that before I started to do some research into art history, I would’ve done the same thing, but after learning a little about it, I began to see it in a whole new light). I would have loved to taken a closer look at this amazing piece of art, but again, due to the people, I couldn’t (well that and the bullet proof glass and guards stating in front of it). When I saw the painting, I just felt very humbled- to be able to travel thousands of kilometres to see such a famous painting- but I’ll get into that another time.
Anyways, if you ever get the chance to visit the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa, take a selfie with it (okay don’t judge me but I took a selfie with it too), but also take a moment to appreciate the art itself.
**A side note: the high renaissance (1490-1527) is the accepted apogee of renaissance art, centred in Rome and paid for by the Pope’s of the time. This is the period in which the ideas of classical humanism were fully implemented in painting and sculpture, as seen through the various techniques used by artists of the time (ie. linear perspective, shading, etc…).