Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci



Louvre, Paris

LOOKING at this picture, we should all be harboring the same feeling--regret. This must have been an excellent painting. Now we can't see a significant vestige of the original. So let's not imagine that it was the greatest of all "Last Suppers." Leonardo did this in oils on an enormous surface, a terrible technical mistake. It was falling to pieces in his own lifetime. A truly great painter of the Renaissance would probably have been a painstaking craftsman.

This Painting, perhaps the world's most famous portrait, has generated more nonsense than any other art-work in history. Thousands upon thousands of lines have been written about it; ecstasies have reached heavenly levels; men have seen in the subject's eyes all of the world that has been and all of the world that is to be. This may be delightful fantasy, enjoyable daydreaming, even good writing--but as criticism it is dense and a sickening pretense.

"Mona Lisa" is an unfinished portrait executed in a manner that was common to many painters of the Italian Renaissance. The picture, in terms of painting itself, is confused in its treatment; it gives the impression of a work whose elaboration was too far extended. The subject is not without psychological interest. The treatment of the mouth, upturned at the ends, makes the subject seem quizzical and curious. Legend has it that Leonardo had musicians present at all times to sustain the peculiar mood of his subject.

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