Attribute the painting of the Mona Lisa to the artist who painted it. Justify your attribution by discussing specific visional characteristics of the paintings that are commonly associated with work of the artist.
The Mona Lisa painting is one of the most expensive, cherished, celebrated and popular works of art from the Renaissance period. Generally and universally this master piece of art has been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest old masters in the history of art. Leonardo da Vinci has been called the true, ‘Renaissance man’ because of his master pieces of artworks which include the Mona Lisa because of its outstanding visional characteristics which will be further explored in this also his mastery in portraiture, perspective and realism. There are also a number of paintings by essay. Some of these characteristics include the mastery use of oil painting known as the sfumato, Leonardo da Vinci which have similar characteristics to the Mona Lisa painting and these include Portrait of the Musician, The Last Supper ,The Virgin of the Rocks, Lady with an Ermine, Ginevra de’Benci and Madonna of the Yarnwinder. These similar visional characteristics will be explored in the essay in a mission to justify the attribution of the Mona Lisa to Leonardo da Vinci.
Foremost, the Mona Lisa is neither signed nor dated like every other artwork by Leonardo da Vinci. Giorgio Vasari has argued that this painting was painted by Leonardo da Vinci and he was painting Lisa Gherardine wife of a Florentine dignitary and wealthy silk merchant. Vasari also mentions that Leonardo employed musicians and troubadours to keep her amused which might explain her enigmatic smile. As usual as with many of his paintings Leonardo procrastinated endlessly over the painting. This procrastination is noted on the position of the subject’s hands which are somehow different from the rest of the painting various scholars believe Leonardo worked on the Mona Lisa for over two decades.
Another similar visional characteristic from another painting which Leonardo procrastinated to finish is the Portrait of the Musician which the artist never managed to finish off. The Mona Lisa and Portrait of the Musician are both portraits which highlight Leonardo’s mastery in oil painting ,his mastery in perspective and realism these similarities therefore illustrate that these two paintings belong to the same artist henceforth Leonardo can be attributed to the Mona Lisa paintings in the light of these similarities.
In addition, the Mona Lisa can also be further attributed to Leonardo da Vinci through its similar visional characteristics with the Virgin of the Rocks which was painted by the artist between 1438 and 1485. The painting like the Mona Lisa also exhibits Leonardo’s outmost mastery in sfumato. This oil painting technique involves the smooth and almost imperceptible transition from one colour to another by means of ultra-subtle tonal gradations. In the Mon Lisa it is particularly visible in the soft contouring of Lisa’s face around the eyes and mouth. The use of sfumato in both paintings enhances great serenity that enriched by a definite air of mystery and harmony.
In the Mona Lisa, Leonardo illustrates exquisite synthesis of the sitter and landscape, the Mona Lisa set the standard for all future portraits. The painting presents a woman in half-body portrait, which has as a backdrop a distant landscape. Yet this simple description of a seemingly standard composition gives little sense of Leonardo’s achievement. The sensuous curves of the sitter’s hair and clothing, created through sfumato, are echoed in the shapes of the valleys and rivers behind her. The sense of overall harmony achieved in the painting which is especially apparent in the sitter’s faint smile that reflects Leonardo’s idea of the cosmic link connecting humanity and nature, making this painting an enduring record of Leonardo’s vision. In his other paintings like The virgin of the Rocks, The Madonna of the Yarnwinder and the Lady with an Ermine Leonardo also manages to illustrate the same idea that he conveys through the Mona Lisa that is the cosmic attraction between humanity and nature. Therefore because of these similar visional characteristics through which ideas are conveyed one is bound to attribute the Mona Lisa painting to Leonardo.
Moreover, in his other paintings like Ginevra de’Benci, The Lady with an Ermine and The Musician Leonardo was able to somehow bring life from his portrait paintings. Before him, portraits lacked mystery, artists only represented outward appearances without any soul or, if they showed the soul, they tried to express it through gestures, symbolic objects or inscriptions. The Mona Lisa alone is a living enigma the soul is there, but inaccessible. From the Mona Lisa and his other portraits , one can sort of feel an awe miraculous creation of nature and humanity represented at the same time Leonardo da Vinci’s portraits go beyond their social limitations and acquire a universal meaning.
Although Leonardo worked on the Mona Lisa painting as a scholar and thinker, not only as a painter and poet, the scientific and philosophical aspects of his research inspired no following. But the formal aspect the new presentation, the nobler attitude and the increased dignity of the model had a decisive influence over Florentine portraits of the next twenty years, over the classical portrait. With his Mona Lisa, Leonardo created a new formula, at the same time more monumental and livelier, more concrete and yet more poetic than that of his predecessors. Leonardo’s mastery in portraiture changed art world forever hence because of such impressive visional characteristics in his paintings Leonardo deserves his attribution to the Mona Lisa.
Furthermore, from all his other contemporaries Leonardo had special skills which he illustrated in paintings like the Last supper, the Mona Lisa itself and his other paintings. The most burning question amongst art critiques is what made Leonardo da Vinci paintings stand out from the work of his peers and contemporaries? Many scholars have suggested that it is due to his paintings’ unique effect on viewers, ultimately caused by his impressive scientific approach towards his work. For example, he was one of the few artists who mastered the concept of the “vanishing point”, which involves creating a remarkable sense of depth and three-dimensionality in a two-dimensional frame by drawing strong diagonal lines that intersect in the painting’s background. A great illustration of this technique can be found in one of his most famous paintings, ‘The Last Supper’. The room in which Jesus and his disciples are sitting appears symmetrical and realistic, a perfect representation of three-dimensional space, whereby the walls seem to be converging inwards.
Likewise this illustration of techniques is also evident in the Mona Lisa itself the background of the painting’s landscape behind the sitter was created using aerial perspective, with its smoky blues and no clearly defined vanishing points it gives the composition a significant depth. Its details however, reveal a clear imbalance between the rocky horizons and lower flatlands. It is this imbalance that adds to the surreal atmosphere of the painting just like what is conveyed in the painting of the Last supper. The outstanding visional characteristics in both paintings have led to the attribution of the Mona Lisa to Leonardo da Vinci.
In addition, Da Vinci also experimented with perspective to create unforgettable impressions of people and places. For example, in what is perhaps the most recognized portrait in the world, ‘Mona Lisa’s viewers feel that the woman in the painting is watching them, regardless of their position in relation to the frame. Furthermore, her mysterious smile seems to suggest a thought. According to Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) the father of modern art in his parody entitled L.H.O.O.Q he says , ‘’gazing at Mona Lisa is an eerie experience that can only be felt when looking at the original as some of the effect is lost in reproductions. Many deem her partial smile to be the cause of her unsettling effect on viewers, while others attribute it to her unavoidable eyes. In any case, Mona Lisa’s portrait is an unforgettable, intimate viewing experience’’.
Aside from Mona Lisa Leonardo da Vinci created many other notable works, which has as much tremendous impact on his peers and the style of future artists. One such masterpiece is ‘Madonna of the Rocks’, whereby his talent for three-dimensional effects, applied to a landscape background, produces a strong reaction in viewers. ‘St. John in the Wilderness’, which combines dimensional technique, skilful perspective, and colour effects into one powerful composition, is an illustration of da Vinci’s ingenuity just as much as the Mona Lisa also show cases his pure and rare talent and also an outstanding skill set . Thus the Mona Lisa can be attributed to Da Vinci. The Mona Lisa’s famous smile represents the sitter in the same way that he also represents Ginevra de’ Benci and The Lady and the ermine in their portraits. Da Vinci conveys a visual representation of the idea of happiness suggested by the word “gioconda” in Italian. Leonardo made this notion of happiness the central motif of the portrait. It is this notion which makes the work such an ideal just like the two other of his portraits the Ginevra de’Benci and The Lady and the ermine.
In conclusion, The Mona Lisa painting is generally and universally attributed to Leonardo da Vinci because of its various outstanding similarities to the artists other paintings which include the Last Supper, The Musician, and The Virgin of the Rocks, Lady with an Ermine, Ginevra de’Benci and Madonna of the Yarnwinder. The various similar visional characteristics in include Leonardo’s mastery in oil painting which is known as sfumato ,his mastery in perspective and realism also the cosmic link he managed to illustrate between nature and humans. Leonardo da Vinci’s portraits also managed to bring out the soul of his subjects hence Leonardo’s mastery in portraiture changed art world forever hence because of such impressive visional characteristics in his paintings Leonardo deserves his attribution to the Mona Lisa painting