The Mona Lisa is more than a portrait but an expression of experience. Leonardo worked on this painting for almost 20 years and imbued it with as much knowledge as he could. One example was his use of color which wasn’t just chosen or applied arbitrarily but with examples of color theory. He realized that colors would appear differently when placed next to certain hue’s and that they changed in shadow and became less colorful as they receded from the eye. He applied some of these rules and broke others. The painting wasn’t really painted from life with a woman sitting in front of a specific window, or overlooking a specific back ground, or with certain lighting. She is as symbolic and figurative as the colors used and the background itself.
Although the colors have faded and been changed slightly from age and the tint of the varnish we can still see the change in color and hues follow an interesting trend. From Red, Yellow, Green, to Blue. These follow the visual spectrum of colors that we can perceive. This adds a type of innate beauty to the painting because it combines a type of universality that just ‘fits’ into how we see - because it was designed that way. These same visual/ color rules can be used to create optical illusions and it’s likely the painting also possesses these qualities but are less evident due to the deterioration and faded colors. It’s probable that the painting would have originally caused a type of visual movement due to the color theme used. Or in other words the painting itself, the order of the colors used, as they recede into the distance follow the electromagnetic spectrum.
This is the type of optical illusion that the painting probably would have caused (to a lesser extent) in it’s prime. It’s not a gif, your mind makes it move - based on the colors and their gradation used alone.
❝I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.❞ -Leonardo
Happy Birthday Leonardo da Vinci, leading artist & intellectual of the Italian Renaissance, born on this day in 1452. This drawing by da Vinci, of A Maiden with a Unicorn, is held in our Western Art Print Room. The Print Room is home to more than 270,000 prints & drawings, available to view by anyone by appointment.