Essay on A Study in Portraits – Da Vinci and Van Gogh

1431 Words Sep 30th, 2011 6 Pages
A Study in Portraits – da Vinci and Van Gogh Two of the greatest artists of all time would have to be Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) and Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890). Da Vinci was an artistic genius, as well as an ingenious inventor and scientist, while Van Gogh was an artistic savant whose mental instability cut short a career of wonder and enlightenment. Both artists presented works that made people look both outside at the artwork itself as well as inside the individual viewer in order to interpret the work. Ultimately, it was their work in the style of portraiture that we can link the two artists. Da Vinci was one of the first artists of the Renaissance to use the three-quarter view as a pose for his subjects. This …show more content…
One of the best examples of this would have to be the Self-Portrait that he painted while staying at the insane asylum in Saint-Rémy, France during 1889. With this self-portrait, Van Gogh presents himself from the three-quarter view in order to show himself posing with his palette. In my opinion, this pose and the vibrant colors that he uses goes a long way to show just how much he needed to use his creativity in painting in order to maintain his mental equilibrium. Van Gogh himself noted just how important painting is to his life, writing in a letter to his brother Theo, “Work distracts me infinitely better than anything else and if I could once put all my energy into it, that might be the best remedy” (van Uitert, van Tiborgh, and van Heugten, 226). In da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the artist showed the world that he was at the height of his capabilities. Within this exquisite painting, da Vinci perfected the method of sfumato that he first developed in The Virgin of the Rocks, as well as presented the subject in the three-quarter view. Contemporaries of da Vinci, such as Michelangelo and Raphael, were so impressed with these developments that they considered it miraculous (Janson and Janson, 282). When I view the Mona Lisa, I am struck with just how well-balanced the colors and shading are. There is a rather smooth flow from the woman in the forefront to the background that da Vinci was able to accomplish with sfumato. It is like

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