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Artwork Review: Mona Lisa by Da Vinci
Posted by Graphica on 12/5/2008 3:23:09 PM (ET)
Filed Under: General
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Despite centuries of controversy, no evidence exists to prove that this is not a portrait of the third wife of a successful merchant, Francesco di Bartolommeo del Giocondo. Layers of varnish have darkened the work but cannot hide what is the quintessence of Leonardo’s style. The blending of many thin layers of paint renders the curve of La Gioconda’s cheeks, the puffiness around her eyes and the folds of skin at the corners of her mouth. If those lips do smile, what is their secret?

Mona Lisa - Da Vinci

MONA LISA (c. 1503-07)
Oil on Panel

The enigma seems tied in with the landscape behind her. A bridge and a road, both cut off on either end, are the only signs of human life. Characteristic of the artist are the lunar precipices seen through the mist. The sfumato effect softens details and deepens the mystery.

If the sitter is indeed a bride, wealthy enough to have a portrait painted, she is curiously without adornment. No jewels relieve the sombre tones of her dress. The only ornamentation, in fact, is a knot-design along the top of her bodice, a motif obsessively repeated in Leonardo’s drawings (and some of his paintings) without commentary or explanation.

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