Mona Lisa By Leonardo De Vinci - An Unrevealed Story
The subsequent history of the Mona Lisa is relatively uncomplicated: it remained in the French royal collection until 1805, when it entered the Louvre in Paris.
The Mona Lisa is covered with layers of dirt and varnish that disguise an incredible delicacy, transparency, and luminosity of the painting. No one dares to clean the portrait for fear of damaging it! Only with infra-red photography can we get some small idea of the original lightness of touch with which Leonardo executed it, of the richness of his modeling, of the most subtle gradations of light and shadow, and of the inimitable treatment of surfaces that creates the illusion of an atmospheric veil around the face. Infra-red photographs further reveal the true character of the landscape, whose forms are not the hard and heavy galvanic eruptions they appear to be to the naked eye; they are instead fragile and foam-like elements of nature that virtually evaporate into mist. The landscape is a mysterious and evocative place in which the only evidence of human existence is vestigial, taking the form of the bridge on the extreme right of the panel.
The figure forms a pyramid shape in three-quarter view, seen within the cubic space of a balcony. The observer's point of view is made to shift from figure to landscape. The figure is seen from the same level as the observer, but the viewpoint shifts upwards in the landscape. The light also shifts, bathing the figure in soft subdued yellow tones and the landscape in a grey-blue sfumato. As a result, the rocky background, which is imaginary, has a hazy, misty quality.
These contrasts serve to distinguish the landscape from the figure. At the same time, however, Leonardo has created formal parallels between the figure and landscape that indicate their relationship. For example, the form of the sitter repeats the triangular mountains, and her transparent veil echoes the filtered light of the sfumatomists. The curved aqueduct on the right continues into the highlighted drapery fold over her left shoulder, and the spiral road on her right is repeated in the short curves of her sleeves. These in turn correspond to the line of her fingers.
Leonardo has emphasized costume, detail, texture, and a linear contour that surrounds the form with a clear and uninterrupted continuity. In addition, he has juxtaposed large areas of densely saturated colors that differentiate and yet unify into a distinct and decorative pattern the dress, shawl, blouse, anatomy, hair, and headpiece. The whole is illuminated by a diffused sunlight that casts delicate shadows on the face and neck.
Such formal parallels do not explain the mystery of the figure, whose expression has been the subject of songs, stories, poems, even other works of art. The enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa is the subject of volumes of scholarly interpretation. Vasari says that Leonardo hired singers and jesters to keep the smile on her face while he painted. According to Sigmund Freud, the smile evoked the dimly remembered smile of Leonardo's mother:
For Francesco del Giocondo Lionardo undertook the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife, and left it incomplete after working at it for four years. This work is now in the possession of Francis, King of France, at Fontainebleau.
This head is an extraordinary example of how art can imitate Nature, because here we have all the details painted with great subtlety. The eyes possess that moist lustre which is constantly seen in life, and about them are those livid reds and hair which cannot be rendered without the utmost delicacy. The lids could not be more natural, for the way in which the hairs issue from the skin, here thick and there scanty, and following the pores of the skin. The nose possesses the fine delicate reddish apertures seen in life. The opening of the mouth, with its red ends, and the scarlet cheeks seem not colour but living flesh. To look closely at her throat you might imagine that the pulse was beating. Indeed, we mayay that this was painted in a manner to cause the boldest artists to despair.
Mona Lisa was very beautiful, and while Lionardo was drawing her portrait he engaged people to play and sing, and jesters to keep her merry, and remove that melancholy which painting usually gives to portraits. This figure of Lionardo's has such a pleasant smile that it seemed rather divine than human, and was considered marvellous, an exact copy of Nature.