the

Mona Lisa - Why so Famous?

the Mona Lisa is widely considered to be

the greatest portrait of all time it

appears in countless advertisements has

inspired poetry sculpture forgeries and

theft but seriously why the painting is

small only 30 by 21 inches the color is

somber the background seems desolate and

eerie and the subject isn't anyone

historically significant so what's all

the brouhaha about is it really all

about her mystifying gaze and a quirky

smile well let's take a closer look da

Vinci's greatest innovation here is the

relaxed and informal 3/4 pose of the

subject although Mona Lisa's pose may

seem commonplace and almost trivial

today it was revolutionary in the early

16th century prior portraits were stiff

and contrived and mainly consisted of

profiles this pose established a new

style of portrait painting that is still

the de facto standard today over 500

years later the pyramidal composition of

the portrait is also a DaVinci

innovation notice the wide base of the

painting which appears heavier than the

top Mona Lisa's hands form the front

corner of the pyramid your eye is drawn

to the top of the painting in that

infamous enigmatic smile furthermore

most portraits of the time were

full-length da Vinci's more intimate

cropping was immediately imitated by

masters such as Raphael soir motto is

Italian for blended with connotations of

smoky Leonardo coined the term to

explain his technique of layering

translucent layers of color to create

the appearance of depth volume and form

the blending of colors become so subtle

that the gradations are hardly

perceptible the area around her eyes as

well as her hair and her scarf have a

semi translucent smoky feel but give the

painting a sense of movement the

technique is also used in the background

to create a sense of harmony between the

sitter and the landscape keep in mind

that this was a completely new technique

that added a sense of realism that was

utterly unparalleled in its time

Leonardo's love of rocky landscapes as

seen in several of his paintings of note

here is how the two landscapes on either

side of Mona Lisa's head are a physical

impossibility the landscape on the left

is noticeably lower than the landscape

on the right this is also one of the

first portraits to use an imaginary

landscape lastly the fact that the

background becomes hazy er and more

out-of-focus as distance increases was a

major breakthrough that added to the

realism of the painting paintings of

this time created equal levels of detail

in the foreground and background most

experts agree that overzealous cleaning

removed the eyebrows which were added

after the paint dried regardless poor

cleaning techniques definitely caused

the greenish hue of her skin tone

however Leonardo was known for more

somber color palettes than his

contemporaries da Vinci's extensive

anatomical dissection zuv over 30

cadavers led to his incredibly accurate

depiction of these delicate and

beautiful hands

these half circular forms are the basis

of pillars on either side of an open

lagea copied sketches by Raphael proved

that part of the painting was lost when

it was removed from its original frame

who is she

experts disagree but she is most likely

Madonna

Lisa D Antonio Maria Gherardini wife of

wealthy Florentine Francesco del

Giocondo who commissioned the painting

in 1503

da Vinci probably never finished the

commission as parts of the painting were

likely painted as late as 1510 like many

great portrait painters he probably

walked a fine line between accurate

representation and flattery perhaps he

then began to infuse his own views of

ideal Beauty into the subject

Leonardo never finished the Commission

and it is said that he traveled with the

painting in order to show off his

talents

scientists cannot agree as to why Mona

Lisa's smile is interpreted so

differently by different people theories

range from the nature of human vision to

Sigmund Freud's interpretation of the

smile signifying Leonardo's erotic

attraction to his mother the mystery of

the smile is what makes the painting so

engaging this work introduced several

revolutionary painting techniques

displayed a supreme mastery of technique

by its artists and continues to inspire

intrigue in many who view it it is safe

to say that Leonardo's masterpiece will

likely remain as one of the greatest

portraits of all time