|The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci|
The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings of all time, depicting a young woman, sitting with her hands crossed in front of a fantastical background.
Leonardo De Vinci, the creator of this masterpiece, was an anomaly in his own right. A true Renaissance man, he is most famous for being an artist, but he was also an inventor and drew plan after intricate plan for such things as flying machines and parachutes. Like Galen, the Roman doctor, He dissected bodies and sketched their innards, filling tens of notebooks with his careful drawings and notes. He was left handed and found writing awkward, so he just wrote backwards.
The Mona Lisa is painted on poplar wood primed with green paint which gives the skin tones a more natural appearance. Leonardo, like the Greeks, had a keen interest in what lies under the skin and he ‘sculpted’ his paintings, starting with a skeleton and working his way out, adding layers until the figure was almost in relief. Leonardo De Vinci understood shadows. Real painting isn’t painting light, its painting shadows; there are no lines in nature, no boarders, only vague shapes and endless shadows. The Mona Lisa’s gentle hands are only shadows, there are no hard lines, no tangible outlines, her illusive smile seems to flicker just out of our vision as the faint shadows in her face trick us into believing she is alive. The Greeks worked marble in a similar manner, they loved curves and gentle beauty, the Mona Lisa has both.
But the beauty of the Mona Lisa is not in her face, it is in the mystery that Leonardo infused into the painting. The two halves of the background don’t match up and the rugged structure of the mountains doesn’t look like anywhere on earth. The face has no eyebrows and no smile, but both seem imperceptibly there. Is it a portrait of Leonardo himself? Or is it someone he loved? Just like the infinitely sad and noble Greek statue the Boxer of Quirinal the Mona Lisa seems to have no clear meaning. It is a snapshot of the past, a moment of intangible reality that has been preserved for the ages by the hand of a master.
Unfortunately, I'm no master...but I did learn a bit about what it must like to be one. If you'd like to see the drawing closer up, you can see it at DeviantArt.