The Technique Behind Mona Lisa Essay

1238 Words Nov 21st, 2010 5 Pages
The art of the Renaissance was influenced by both ancient Greek and Roman culture as well as the humanism movement. The subjects of works of art were no longer limited to royal and religious figures, nor were they over idealized portrayals. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa exemplifies this trend. Working with the new medium of oil and his mastery of light, contrast, and sfumato, da Vinci created the most famous painting in the world; a work where subject and background compliment each other to form a perfect union. One of the aspects that make the Mona Lisa such a masterpiece is da Vinci’s use of oil as a medium. As the movie The Mystery of Jon van Eyck explains, the use of oil as a medium was not widely used for painting until van Eyck …show more content…
Another factor that that distinguishes Mona Lisa is its composition. Da Vinci strikes a delicate balance between his subject and the background surrounding her. As Loren Partridge, a Professor of Art History at University of California, explains, da Vinci's positioning of his subject broke away from long established norms regarding portraiture. Unlike the rigid portrait subjects of the past, da Vinci's subject is relaxed and at ease. Sitting in a chair, she is in a natural pose, her hands crossed at her waist. Instead of the traditional side profile portrait, da Vinci positions his subject slightly turned away from the picture plane. She looks beyond the confines of the painting, her eyes locked with those of the viewer. Da Vinci again deviates from conventional full length portraiture and opts instead for three-quarters length, bringing her closer the the edges of painting (121). This closeness creates a sense of intimacy, as if the subject is whispering secrets to the viewer. Adding to the secretive nature is the subject's expression. From her eyes to her widely debated smile, there is a wholly ambiguous aura to her face. By using his knowledge of natural light and contrasting dark and light shades, da Vinci draws the viewer's attention to that cryptic face. In doing so, da Vinci managed to turn simple human expression into a mystery. While she radiates an overall ethereal quality, it seems that da Vinci did not over idealize his

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