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The Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci

The renowned work of Leonardo Da Vinci called the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre museum in Paris, this is a half-length portrait of a young Florentine lady. He has an enigmatic smile and is in a relaxed posture, with his hands folded on the arm of the chair, facing a damp and distant landscape. It is one of Leonardo's richest and most mysterious background landscapes, on paths that get lost on their own.

This work is classified today as the most important of Leonardo Da Vinci.


What strikes us first in the painting is that Mona Lisa seems to be alive and really seems to change before Our eyes and look differently each time we turn to her. Even in the photographs of the painting we experience strange effect. This all sounds a bit mysterious, and it is; that's the effect a great work of art should produce. However, Leonardo certainly knew how to achieve this effect.

Long ago, in a distant past, people looked at the portraits with fear, because it was thought that by preserving the image, the artist could somehow close in the painting, the soul of the person portrayed. Now the great scientist Leonardo had made some of the sounds and fears of these early painters come true.

In this way, Leonardo Da Vinci, the first artist who does not advocate a return to the classical models of Antiquity, starts from it but breaks the tradition of the Florentine Quattrocento, inaugurating the way to return the art of the 16th century.

Be one of the most commented paintings in the history of painting.

The painter was very dedicated and put effort into this painting. We will never know what kind of fascination the painter felt for this discreet and unknown woman.

The 20th century has definitely turned "La Gioconda" into a striking image: Marcel Duchamp (1919) added a mustache playing with the alleged sexual lack of definition of the portrait, Jan Voss (1965) turned it into the content of a can of preserves, the Market turned it into an advertising claim and, finally, fear of computer manipulation has turned the Mona Lisa face into a self-portrait of Leonardo.


Chronology: 1503-1506.




- Technique: The technique used by Leonardo is that of oil. Although he also uses and highlights the "sfumato" technique, where the outline is veiled and blurred, thus always leaving something to our imagination.


- Support: The painting is made on wood.


- Location: This work is in the Loure Museum in Paris. Its dimensions are 77 x 53 cm.


First approach: In the first place, the expression between melancholic and smiling, to what is called the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, has given for the masterful way in which Leonardo applies the sfumato technique: the eyebrows, the nose and the mouth are united by the light and the shadow that defines the facial lines.


Meanwhile, as the forehead, cheekbone and chin stand out for their bright light, the cornice of the lips, the nostrils and the contour of the eyes are blurred giving rise to an ambiguous expression.


The background landscape is made up of nature in motion: flowing rivers, mists and vapors, games of light and vibrations of colors. None of this remains, everything is melting, transmuting. It is indeed where beauty consists: Mona Lisa integrates and is part of the background.


The slight opening of the lips at the corners of the mouth was considered in that period a sign of elegance. Thus Mona Lisa has a slight smile that introduces us into the gentle, delicate atmosphere that permeates the entire painting.


If we look carefully at the picture, we see that the two sides do not quite match, which gives a fantastic ideal landscape look to the background. The horizon, on the left side, appears to be much lower than on the right. Therefore, when we focus on the left side of the painting, the woman somehow seems more upright than if we focus on the right. His face also seems to vary with this change in position, because, even here, the two sides don't exactly match either.






- Line and drawing: Predominance of the curve.


The landscape shows Leonardo's research on aerial perspective.


- Colors: The colors that Leonardo uses are: gray and blue tones to emphasize remoteness and create an atmospheric effect (upper part of the painting); dark greenish-brown tones for the hair and dress and light with yellow tones and shine especially on the chest of the woman, and on the rest of the skin.

Both cold and warm colors appear.


- Light: Contrast between light and shadow. Much clarity and bright light in the traces of the Mona Lisa.

The light is real as it is a portrait of a woman.


- Composition: In the work it could be said that there is a general symmetry, although the woman is damaged and this makes one side more visible than the other.

The composition is balanced, where the face is the vertex of a triangle in which the axis of symmetry is defined by the clarity that illuminates the forehead, chest and hands.

Although with what we see drawn we already have enough to deduce the painting, we could consider it an open work, since we are missing a part of the body, the legs, and the landscape continues on both sides.

The main lines are circular because he is drawing a woman, and the author has modeled her entire body very well.


- Time: The time da Vinci uses is symbolic.


- Rhythm: The painting is at rest, since the Mona Lisa is seated and on its back there is a landscape that is not in motion.


- Style: The style that Leonardo imposes on the Mona Lisa is Renaissance.