da vinic essay 12-6

Max Ames
Mr. Serenbetz
H Humanities
7 December 2010
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
Widely considered the world’s most famous painting with uncountable recreations, reimaginings, and caricatures is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Also called La Gioconda, it was
commissioned by Lisa Gheradini’s wealthy husband. Lenoardo depicts the woman in the painting as
being a virtuous wife by having her hands cross instead of having her wear a marriage ring. The woman
is placed in a pyramidal shape, which was a widespread formula for painting seated women at the time.
The armrest of the chair acts as framing and separates the subject and the viewer. The woman’s face is
surrounded by dark hair and dark shadows and therefore draws much focus.
The portrait is one of the first ever to sport an imaginary background. The landscape’s winding
paths and curvy geology echoes the curves from the woman’s cloths and hair. Also, the landscape is
higher on her left than it is on the right, which helps make her left shoulder appear closer to the viewer.
The nature-oriented background has very little human influence besides for a small bridge, which blends
in to the landscape with its curving arches.
The painting is a very good example of Leonardo’s technique called sfumato, in which he uses
very tiny brush strokes of oil paint to blur the edges of objects and make it feel as if a veil of smoke has
separated the figure from the viewer. Sfumato has also been called Leonardo’s smoke. Leonardo himself
described sfumato as meaning “without lines or borders” and the Mona Lisa is a perfect example of that.
The woman’s smile is famous for being enigmatic. It is slight and resembles an archaic smirk.
Many have speculated on what she is smiling about and many have applauded Leonardo for the
incredible skill it took to create such an expression. It doesn’t take an art scholar to be familiar with the
Mona Lisa; in fact most people in Western civilization know what it is. The fact that the Mona Lisa is so
widely recognized and studied shows the skill and mastery of painting that Leonardo da Vinci wielded
to make such a piece of art.