Leonardo Da Vinci Began Working on the Mona Lisa
“Leonardo da Vinci began working on the Mona Lisa in 1503, and continued to do so until he died in 1519. The painting itself is rather small, and the sitter depicts an average looking woman, with no jewels, and plain dark clothing. He used layers of glaze to enhance the reflection of light from the painting to the eye, and to give it depth. The way he contoured her cheeks, and carved out her smile using variations of shade, coupled with the glaze veil which covers her seems to make the painting come to life right before your eyes as the lighting and angle from which you look at her changes. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the Mona Lisa, as far as who the sitter actually is.
Some have even gone as far as to say the sitter is actually Da Vinci himself, disguised as a woman. There is a certain aura of ambiguity surrounding this artwork, her facial expression, the way the corners of her mouth turn into a slight smile. Who is this woman? Da Vinci was very fascinated with more than just art, he was a thinker, an engineer, and someone who thirsted for knowledge about everything. He was also very intrigued by anatomy, he even went so far as to dissect a human face to understand the muscles and tissues which make up facial expressions in human beings. He used this to help him in creating the famous smile seen in the Mona Lisa painting. Although the painting was well regarded in the art world as early as when Leonardo da Vinci first began creating his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa did not gain world-wide popularity until the media frenzy surrounding its theft from the Louvre (it’s home in Paris, France) in 1911. The painting was missing for two years, until the thief tried to sell it to an Italian art dealer.
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The loss and recovery of the painting renowned it as a French national treasure. Soon thereafter, the painting began drawing more attention when artists began replicating the Mona Lisa, and exaggerating her features (i.e. drawing a mustache on her) for attention. Thus, making her the most recognized face in the world. The Mona Lisa also toured the U.S. in 1963. She sat on display at both the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., as well as the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Her 6 week stay drew crowds of 40,000 people per day!
Although the painting is an excellent work of art, and her artist was truly a master of his talent, I think that the ambiguous nature of the painting coupled with circumstances which drew attention to it are what truly brought the Mona Lisa its celebrity status. The many replications, distortions, exaggerations, and disfigurements artist have played with when reproducing the Mona Lisa have caused some to believe that the piece of art has been diminished by its fame, but I believe it has been enhanced. I think that art takes on many forms, and is used to invoke emotion and reactions in people. Which is exactly what these artists are doing when creating new interpretations of the painting, and the ambiguity of the woman (or man?) represented in the painting leaves much room for those interpretations.
A big question to be asked when considering whether or not the status change enhanced the painting is how the artist himself would feel about all of the different kinds of attention the piece of art has seen. I think Leonardo de Vinci would be in awe at the capabilities and technologies today which afford these artists the ability to turn his artwork into something so different, yet th”