I visited the Louvre in Paris, France and the one thing that I knew for sure that I wanted to see was the Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece. I took the metro that led me into a mall where I walked down a very long hall of shops on each side. Finally, we reached the large inverted pyramid on the middle of a large room. If facing the pyramid with the long hall of the mall to your back, you can look forward and to the left and you will see an entrance to Comedie-Francaise.
It doesn’t look like much from just the doorway from inside the mall of the Louvre but it is an underground studio theatre where you can watch French comedy shows or plays. Leonardo De Vinci used oils to paint the Mona Lisa creating a life like painting. The size of this painting was not a big as I expected to be but the painting itself is amazing. I did not feel there were any distinct lines, but there were plenty of shading that allowed every part to flow right into the next. Like, how the clothing flows softly into a hand, or how her forehead perfectly blends into her hair.
I think of this painting like it was photograph, it is brilliant how her chin stops and her neck begins with subtle lines, nothing over exaggerated. De Vinci used colors that seemed to draw attention to her face as the focal point. There is a perfect contrast of colors between her pale, soft looking skin against her dark dress catches the eye. This contrast is so apparent that you can even see the color of her hands are just a little darker than the color of her face, which assists in drawing the viewer’s attention to her face.
Her facial expression is the what makes her face the obvious focal point of this painting. It pulls out a lot of questions from the mind. Is she smiling? If so, what or who was she was smiling at? Is it a smile to go along with a playful glance as if she was expressing all of her thoughts to the one she was looking at? Or is she even looking at anyone or anything? Just the smile held so many different meanings. It seems to me that it is a smile of happiness or flirtation. Maybe she is just at peace about something.
But then again, after studying it for some time, her smile could mean something completely different. It could be a serious smile and once you think it may be one of seriousness, it can change your mind of what her eyes are saying. My view of her facial expressions can be completely different to anyone else, but I think that is the point of any type of painting. One thing that took me a while to notice was that she had no eyebrows or even eyelashes. I thought it was painted that way, and so did everyone else in the room.
After a long while of gazing at this painting I overheard a tour guide telling he group that she did in fact have them at one time and they had gradually disappeared over time, possibly as a result of cleaning over many years. I tried to visualize what she would look like with them, or if it would completely change my view of her expressions but I think that with the eyebrows and eyelashes missing add a slight semi-abstract quality to her face. One other thing that I knew but never took the time to realize was that Leonardo da Vinci used a wood panel for his painting.
What a magnificent piece of art, to look so realistic and yet on a piece of wood. This only goes to show how great of an artist Leonardo da Vinci really was. An oil painted masterpiece on a wood panel painted in 16th century still in one piece and preserved well enough for it to be available for all to see and study is amazing to me. The observer’s job is to interpret the painting and try to visualize what it was that the artist is expressing as they created their art work. Knowing now, what I have learned in this class gives me opportunity to truly understand what it meant to be able to view such a masterpiece.
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