oil on poplar

Mona Lisa and Golden Ratio.

Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda or La Joconde) is a 16th century portrait painted in oil on a poplar panel by Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance. The work is owned by the Government of France and is on the wall in the Louvre in Paris. It is perhaps the most famous and iconic painting in the world.

Prevalent in the major works of Leonardo Da Vinci and underlying many of his design compositions, is the Phi relationship (also known as the Golden Ratio or the Golden Mean), a Ratio of approximately 1:1.618, found in Nature and Creation, and inherent in the Fibonacci sequence. The Golden Rectangle, the Golden Triangle, and the Golden Pyramid, all based on the Golden Ratio are all appear prominent in the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. He referred to the Golden Ratio as the “Divine Proportion”.

Also, certain Solar System orbital periods and relative planetary distances are also related to Phi. Some scientists say that the shape of the Universe itself is a Dodecahedron based on Phi. 

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, c.1503–06, oil on poplar, 77 × 53 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Source

To round off Masterpiece March on ArtMastered, let me present you with what is undoubtedly the most renowned portrait in the history of western art: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda in Italian. This small panel, thought to be a representation of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is even considered by many to be the world’s most famous painting. This is despite the common viewpoint that the portrait is overrated; I have never been to the Louvre, but I’ve heard from a number of people that navigating the huge crowds surrounding the piece doesn’t make the experience of seeing the Mona Lisa in person worthwhile.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. There is a mysterious history behind the painting’s execution, and when little is known about the subject of a portrait, it can often make the work all the more interesting. The Mona Lisa’s enigmatic expression and the imagined landscape background are two of the reasons historians have been so drawn to the painting. It is also a fantastic example of the sfumato technique Leonardo became renowned for, particularly in the depiction of the sitter’s curly hair. Many an article has been written about the Mona Lisa and in December 2015, the painting hit the headlines after a French scientist claimed to have discovered a hidden portrait painted underneath the surface composition. It was a radical declaration and historians were skeptical, but Pascal Cotte’s scientific methods are very interesting to read about, nonetheless. Have a look at this BBC report for further information and visuals.

Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora (c.1520). Bartolomeo Veneto (Italian, 1470-1531). Tempera and oil on poplar wood. Städel, Frankfurt am Main.

It is thought to be a portrait of Lucrezia Borgia. Veneto has placed her, in three-quarter profile, dressed in a white tunic against a black background. Although she has turned to the left she keeps eye contact with the viewer with a mesmerizing stare. Veneto has painted each strand of her golden hair showing extraordinary attention to detail.