The Mona Lisa

WC Art Encyclopedia Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci created between 1503 and 1506. It depicts Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine silk merchant, in a half-length portrait. Today it is housed by the Musee du Louvre, Paris. It is a 77×53 cm large work of High Renaissance.

Novel qualities of the work are the ambiguity of the subjects expression, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modeling of forms, and the atmospheric illusionism.

Composition: Leonardo used a pyramid design which he introduced into art. The light on the figure shows an underlying geometry of spheres and circles. The arm rest of the chair functions as dividing element between the sitter and the viewer. It creates thereby a distance between the figure depicted and the viewer. Mona Lisa seems to be alive, what Leonardo achieved by not drawing the outlines especially of the eyes and mouth as it was custom at his time.

The Mona Lisa is one of the first portraits in front of an imaginative landscape. Leonardo was one of the first to use aerial perspective. The curves of Mona Lisa’s hair and clothes are echoed in valleys and rivers. The overall feeling of calmness that characterizes Leonardo’s style is achieved through blurred outline, graceful figures, and strong contrasts between dark and light. This sense of overall harmony reflects the link between humanity and nature, da Vinci believed in.

Fun facts: The Mona Lisa has nearly no facial hair (eyebrows, eye laces). This gives the face a slightly abstract quality.

The Mona Lisa is one of the, if not the most persiflaged paintings of the world.

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