Leonardo Davinci the Name Leonardo Da Vinci Term Paper

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Leonardo DaVinci

The name Leonardo Da Vinci, these days, conjures up more than simply a vision of some famous artworks, the most famous arguably the Mona Lisa. Because of the popular novel, the DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, the name also conjures up intimations of mysticism and secret things we do not understand. In fact, that is not surprising. Da Vinci's "career is a series of contrasts and contradictions that make him one of the most enigmatic figures of all time" (Schultz 1971, 454), although he left an enormous amount of documentation of his life and work, more than any other artist of his time.

It is fitting that his life should be considered as enigmatic as his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda. The painting has but one major theme, the figure of a not-very-beautiful woman. It is painted in earth tones, and the deeper and duller ones at that. The shadowing that gives form to the relatively monochromatic face and hands is deep and stark, in contrast to the shadowing on the garments; because those garments are deep browns, blues, and greens, except for a form-establishing light-colored fold at the left shoulder, significant modeling was not possible.

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There is little contrast of either hue or value in the Mona Lisa's garments; there is equally little in the primarily pastoral background. However, the background is lighter then the foreground, the figure, a departure from standard and expected compositional practice, in which the foreground objects will be lighter, more detailed and better modeled.

Term Paper on Leonardo Davinci the Name Leonardo Da Vinci, Assignment

There is little movement in the picture. Indeed, in the Mona Lisa figure itself, there is complete repose, arms folded; she seems to represent a drawing inward, with just the hint of a smile indicating she has any relationship at all to her environment or the endeavor in which she is engaged. She seems self-involved, but in a more spiritual way than the sitters of other noble portraits of the era. She is at once both self-conscious and studiously unself-conscious regarding her current project. The background is equally passive, despite the fact that it is where any rhythm is established. Streams meander behind La Gioconda's back, working their way down, one assumes, from the heights seen at the far rear of the picture. There is a bridge, a plateau, a forest. In addition, there is the sky that seems to create a disembodied halo behind the figure.

Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa about 1503, when he was living in Florence after some years in Milan. During the Florentine period, Leonardo was also working on significant civil projects, not the least of which was diverting the Arno River for the use of the population of Florence (Schultz 1971). With that in mind, it is easy to see how well the Mona Lisa -- a soft, almost vague composition with very little movement -- is in direct contrast to many of Leonardo's other works, but also formed a contrast to the other aspects of his life at the time.

Leonardo painted the Last Supper six years before the Mona Lisa, when he was living in Milan, where he spent seventeen years in service of Ludovico Sforza, duke of Milan. This period of Leonardo's life is regarded as the most settled in most ways, allowing him to devote his attention to his painting without undue pressures from other quarters. During this period, "he gradually abandoned the precious painting style of his youth, and developed a new style that had all the earmarks of High Renaissance painting: (Schultz 1971, 455). The Last Supper is considered to be among the greatest of these new High Renaissance Da Vinci works (Schultz 1971).

The specific changes Leonardo made in his style include shifting from excitement to drama and from naturalistic observation to rational abstraction, according to Schultz. It is easy to find the drama in this painting. There may have been more dramatic Biblical scenes -- the Resurrection, even the scene at Calvary -- but none of the others would have offered Leonardo the opportunity to explore the dramatic event in both a personal and collective way. A room with a dozen or so people in it would be small enough for intimacy in revealing emotion, yet large enough to capture the aura of the event.

As far as changing naturalism for abstraction, one need only look at… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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