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Leonardo's painting - Who is Mona Lisa ver 2.0

Leonardo was born in or near the town of Vinci, about half way between Florence and Pisa, on 15 April 1452. He was the illegitimate son of a rising Florentine legal official Ser Piero da Vinci. He was good at drawing and was enrolled with the leading Florentine artist of Verrocchio in 1469, at the age of 17. Leonardo was probably the greatest artists of the Renaissance. His studies were strictly based in the scientific methods, on vigorous analysis and on objective reasoning. But it was his inquisitive mind that drove the man forever forward to understand our place in nature. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent in recorded history. Apart from portraits, religious themes and historical paintings, Leonardo’s greatest legacies were his notebooks and drawings. He influenced many of his contemporary artists, including Michelangelo Raphael, Giorgione and Bramante. Yet he always had a deep distrust of human society. “Alone you are all yourself.”

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Leonardo's painting - Who is Mona Lisa ver 2.0

  1. 1. First created 11 Feb 2012. Version 2.0 - 10 Jan 2016. Jerry Tse. London. Leonardo da Vinci All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial and personal use. His paintings – A Search for Perfection Version 2 Who is the real Mona Lisa?
  2. 2. Leonardo was born in or near the town of Vinci, about half way between Florence and Pisa, on 15 April 1452. He was the illegitimate son of a rising Florentine legal official Ser Piero da Vinci. He was good at drawing and was enrolled with the leading Florentine artist of Verrocchio in 1469, at the age of 17. Leonardo was probably the greatest artists of the Renaissance. His studies were strictly based in the scientific methods, on vigorous analysis and on objective reasoning. But it was his inquisitive mind that drove the man forever forward to understand our place in nature. Knot pattern inscribed ‘Academia Leonardo da Vinci’. 1495. Engraving. British Museum, London. Vinci 2011. According to Vasari ‘Leonardo disposition was so lovable that he commanded everyone’s affection’, and there are many other accounts of his good looks and charm, as well as his sense of humour and love of practical jokes. Yet he always had a deep distrust of human society. “Alone you are all yourself.”
  3. 3. TimelineRenaissancePainters Leonardo contemporaries
  4. 4. His Early Florentine Years 1452-1483
  5. 5. EarlyFlorentineYears The Baptism of Christ. C1470-72. Verrocchio. Uffizi, Florence. According to Vasari “Leonardo painted (the left-hand angels) in such a manner that his angel was far better than the figure painted by Verrocchio (Leonardo’s teacher). This was the reason why Andrea would never touch colours again, he was so ashamed that a boy understood their use better than he did.”
  6. 6. Early Florence Years The Annunciation. 1472-74. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. This is Leonardo’s earliest known complete work. Even at this early stage he had developed his distinctive style of painting flowers. The dark trees and the dark wall behind the angel and Mary demonstrate his use of the Chiaroscuro technique.
  7. 7. Early Florence Years The Annunciation (Detail – Angel). 1472-74. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. The lily held by the Archangel Gabriel is a symbol of Mary’s purity.
  8. 8. EarlyFlorenceYears Ginevra de Benci. C1474. National Gallery, Washington, USA. Leonardo painted Ginevra with a stiff and solemn expression. This is rather an uneasy portrait showing little or no emotion. Leonardo was the master of using the ‘Chiaroscuro’ technique, balancing the light and the dark areas. He often used a lighted subject against a skilfully darkened background.
  9. 9. The portrait of Ginevra shows the use of the technique of ‘Sfumato’ , The blurring of edges and smoothing colours between adjacent areas. Thus it eliminates harsh outlines. This was first introduced by Leonardo and Giorgione. This contrasts with Botticelli’s lining approach. Comparison EarlyFlorenceYears
  10. 10. The Milan Years - 1483-1499 Ludovico Sforza. 1496-99. by Amrogio de Predis. Tempera on Vellum. Archivio Storico Civico and Biblioteca Trivulziana, Milan. In 1482, Leonardo entered service of Ludovico II as military engineer and organiser of festivities, in Milan.
  11. 11. MilanYears Because of the rigid pose and the harshness of the shadows, some scholars express their doubts that it was painted by Leonardo. Others pointed to the fine art of Leonardo’s work on the young man face. It is possible that there were more than one painters who worked on the portrait. The young man has a distinctive stare at something outside the canvas, encapsulating a sense of reality. We only know that he was a musician by the musical score in his hand. The Musician. c1485. Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
  12. 12. MilanYears Virgin of the Rocks. 1483-1485. Musee du Louvre, Paris. Why are they in a cave? Why is St John the Baptist with the Virgin Mary and not baby Jesus? Why is the angel pointing to St John the Baptist in the Paris version? There are two versions of this painting, one in the Louvre, Paris and the other in the National Gallery, London. The two paintings are nearly identical, with obvious differences. The Paris version is the older of the two. The painting was commissioned, in April 1483, for the chapel of the newly formed Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, attached to the church of San Francesco Grande. By December 1484, the Paris version of the painting was nearly finished. Then there was a dispute about the price of the painting. In the exchange of documents, it mentioned that ‘another buyer was interested’ in the painting. Leonardo and his co- painters must have sold the Paris version to ‘another buyer’. Then the dispute dragged on until the London version was painted to fulfil the original contract, after some further disputes. There several unusual features of this painting :-
  13. 13. MilanYears Virgin of the Rocks (Detail). 1483-1485. Musee du Louvre, Paris. The Last Supper (Detail – St John). c1495. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. Are these the same woman?
  14. 14. MilanYears Virgin of the Rocks (Detail). 1483-1485. Musee du Louvre, Paris. Edited for fading. The angel is pointing out to the viewer that the painting is about St John, who according to the Bible was born by Immaculate Conception. By implication Virgin Mary the mother of Jesus must be born by Immaculate Conception as well. This is the whole point of the painting!! Why is St John the Baptist with the Virgin Mary and not baby Jesus? Why is the angel pointing to St John the Baptist? An interpretation of painting The following interpretation of the painting is based on a document written by James Kettlewell on the internet, which makes sense to me. The painting is about the Immaculate Conception (that is born without the Original Sin) of the Virgin Mary. According to the Confraternity, both St John and Mary were born by Immaculate Conception and they are not divine. They belong together. Baby Jesus and the angel are grouped together as they are divine.
  15. 15. MilanYears Virgin of the Rocks (Detail). 1483-1485. Musee du Louvre, Paris. [Image with fading removed and brightened. Dialogue of hands. The angel is looking at us and pointing at St John the Baptist.
  16. 16. MilanYears There are two versions of the painting one in Paris and the other in London.
  17. 17. MilanYears Virgin of the Rocks. 1495-1499 & 1506-08. National Gallery, London. So why are they in a cave? This is the London version of the painting. It is a later painting. Unlike the Paris version the painting has been restored, it is brighter and the colours more vivid. The painting was painted in 1495-1499. The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and the artists continued their arguments about the contract. It was finally finished some time between 1506 and 1508. The major difference between the London version and the Paris version is that the angel no longer points to St John the Baptist and no longer looks toward the viewer. In 1483, Vatican gave support to the idea of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary and condemned those who preached against it. Maybe it was this declaration that the Confraternity no longer felt the need for the angel to point at St John the Baptist. James Kettlewell thinks that Virgin at a grotto is a traditional setting in art. Others think that this may be a reference to the stainless Virgin as in God’s creation of the world. Others point to the meeting with St John on the flight into Egypt. The rugged cave would be such a remote place to offer seclusion and refuge. Still others think that the cave is a symbol of Mary, as in the Song of Song (114), in which Mary is described as “dove … in the clefts of the rock”. Finally, in the specification of the painting, the Confraternity did make the reference to “the mountains and rocks to be worked in oil”.
  18. 18. A speculation on the cave Recently, I came across another Virgin of the Rocks. It was the Madonna of the Cavern in Covadonga, Asturias in Spain. Covadonga is an Asturian word meaning “Cavern of the Lady”. Covadonga is also a significant Christian site. For it was here in 722 AD that the Spanish Christians stopped the Islamic Moors expansion in Spain, by winning an important battle here. It is often considered to be the start of the 770-year effort to expel Muslim rulers from Spain during the Reconquista. The importance of Covadonga was underlined by Pope John Paul II calling Convadonga “one of the foundation stones of Christian Europe.” Would this be the place that provided the cave setting in Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks?
  19. 19. MilanYears Virgin of the Rocks (Detail). 1495-1499 & 1506-08. National Gallery, London.
  20. 20. MilanYears Virgin of the Rocks (Angel). 1495-1499 & 1506-08. National Gallery, London. She is the most beautiful woman ever painted in the history of European paintings. Don’t you agree?
  21. 21. MilanYears Cecilia Gallerani. C1489-1490. National Museum, Cracow. The lady was the mistress of Ludovico Sforza (Leonardo’s boss). Note the very faint shadows of the beads on her chest.
  22. 22. MilanYears Madonna Litta. c1490-91. Hermitage. St Petersburg. A rather playful baby Jesus, who noticed our presence. The exceptional love of a mother?
  23. 23. MilanYears La Belle Ferroniere (Detail). C1490-1495. Musee du Louvre, Paris. Sometimes this painting is attributed to Leonardo’s followers. The most disconcerting feature of the portrait is the intensity of her gaze, perhaps with a hint of hostility. The expression of the rest of her face is somewhat sober. The title of the painting is called ‘La Belle Ferroniere (The beautiful ironmonger)’. However the title ‘La Belle Ferroniere’ was a 1642 confusion, in which this painting was mistakenly identified. In reality, we do not have much idea who the sitter really was.
  24. 24. Milan Years The Last Supper. 1496-97. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. Four groups of three disciples and three windows behind Jesus. The disciples were behaving more like Italian than Jew with their hand gestures and heated discussions, in an atmosphere charged with emotions. Jesus was isolated in the painting. He alone would have to face what was to come.
  25. 25. Milan Years The Last Supper (Detail). 1496-97. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. Bartholomew James the Less Andrew Peter with knife Judas with his money John with tear
  26. 26. Milan Years The Last Supper (Detail). 1496-97. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. ThaddeusJesus Thomas with his poking finger James the Elder Phillip SimonMatthew
  27. 27. Juda St James the Elder Milan Years Drawing studies of The Last Supper. Studies of the disciples in the Last Supper. The painting is noted for its emotionally charged expressions and the animated gestures of the disciples.
  28. 28. Milan Years St Philip St Bartholomew Drawing studies of The Last Supper. Studies of the disciples in the Last Supper. The painting is noted for its emotionally charged expressions and the animated gestures of the disciples.
  29. 29. The Last Super, after Leonardo da Vinci. c1520. Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli. Magdalen College, Oxford. Milan Years Only around 20% of Leonardo’s Last Supper is still visible today. However, an accurate copy and almost the same size as the original Last Supper, still in good conditions exists. It was painted about 25 years later by Rizzoli. This painting was used extensively for reference, during the 20-year-restoration of the original painting in Milan.
  30. 30. A rediscovered portrait by Leonardo? La Bella Principessa (Bianca Sforza). Colour chalk on paper. 1496. Private Collection. MilanYears The name of the young woman of the portrait was Bianca Sforza, an illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Milan. She was 13 or 14 at the time of the portrait and died a few months later. Investigators of the portrait demonstrated that it was painted by Leonardo, when it was shown to be from a missing page of a 500 year-old-book, at the National Library of Poland, Warsaw. The book was commissioned for the 1496 wedding of Bianca Sforza. [For further details see February 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine, which funded the investigation.] However, there are scholars that expressed their doubts on the portrait. David Ekserdjian, a scholar of 16C Italian drawings, suspects the work is a “counterfeit”. [see Wikipedia]. N ew find
  31. 31. His Late Florentine Years -1499-1517
  32. 32. Late Florence years La Gioconda (Mona Lisa). 1503-05. Musee du Louvre, Paris.
  33. 33. The use of ‘Sfumato’, the blurring of edges and smoothing colours to eliminate harsh outlines, on the lips, may have led to the enigmatic smile of Mona Lisa. Illustration from National Geographic Magazine Feb 2012. Late Florence years Mona Lisa was the second wife of a Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, hence its title La Gioconda. Leonardo worked on it for four years and never delivered the finished work. He kept the painting for himself and brought it with him to France. The painting is now in poor condition and the glazed varnish has now cracked and turned a dirty green. Today it is hung in a bullet-proof glass cage. Recent research discovered the death certificate of Mona Lisa, who died in 1542, in the convent of St Orsola in central Florence.
  34. 34. Late Florence years This is a copy of the Mona Lisa in the Prado Museum, before cleaning and restoration. As the black paint was removed, the museum discovered the familiar landscape of the original Mona Lisa. The work is believed to have been made by an apprentice of Leonardo, possible painted at the same time as the original. The painting shows greater details and brighter colours. N ew find
  35. 35. LateFlorenceYears
  36. 36. Another Mona Lisa? We know quite a bit by Mona Lisa. Her maiden name was Lisa Gherardini and she was the wife of the silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, who lived several doors away on the opposite side of the same street, from Leonardo’s father. We know Lisa was born in 1479 and Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa between 1503-1505, therefore Mona Lisa was between 24 and 26. We also know that she died in 1542 and there were a big crowd attended her funeral. We also has a sketch of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa portrait by Raphael. Raphael was a great painter, but his Mona Lisa did not appear to look like the Louvre’s Mona Lisa. Furthermore, Raphael’s Mona Lisa has eyebrows and two columns either sided of her. Raphael’s Mona Lisa looked younger and to me than the Louvre’s Mona Lisa. Does this mean Leonardo painted two different portraits of Mona Lisa? If so, where is the second Mona Lisa? The Louvre Mona Lisa was acquired by King Frances I of France, hence the connection with the Louvre. Apparently, in 1517 Leonardo told de Beatis that the portrait was for Giuliano de Medici (not for Francesco del Giocondo? Are we talking about two different portraits? Because we know that Leonardo did painted Mona Lisa).
  37. 37. The Isleworth Mona Lisa is a painting, now In a vault in Singapore. The painting is claimed by some to be the original work of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. But the painting has insufficiently examined by experts. The painting was discovered by the English art collector Hugh Blaker before WW I. He bought the painting and put it in his studio in Isleworth, London. This painting also has two columns on the left and the right side of the painting, similar to that of Raphael's sketch. Her posture is similar to that of the Louvre’s Mona Lisa. She also has a faint eyebrows like Raphael’s Mona Lisa. But this painting is widely disputed by the art community. The Isleworth Mona Lisa?
  38. 38. Mona Lisa behind the paint? After spending 10 years analysing the painting Mona Lisa, using his multispectral imaging technique, Pascal Cotte, a French scientist had found a hidden portrait beneath the surface of the Louvre’s Mona Lisa. In December 2015, he announced the discovery of the underlying portrait by Leonardo. At the same time he also revealed a recreated image of what he thought was the underlying portrait, which he proposed was the original Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. So was she the real Leonardo’s Mona Lisa?
  39. 39. Who was the woman on the painting ? If so, then who was the woman on the Louvre’s painting. Was Louvre’s painting for Giulanio de Medici? Some experts suggested the Louvre’s Mona Lisa glazing and painting techniques dated from Leonardo’s later period after 1508. If all these are true then the Louvre’s Mona Lisa is not the same as Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. This led to some expert to suggest that the woman was in fact Giuliano’s mistress, Pacifica Brandano, who died of child birth. The Lourve’s Mona Lisa is the posthumous portrait of Pacifica Brandano. Louvre’s Mona Lisa does look a few years older than Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Can we believe all these? It is certainly a good story. Maybe time will tell us the true story of the mysterious smile. Whether she is or she is not Mona Lisa, it cannot take away the fact that the painting is still a great portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.
  40. 40. Madonna of the Yarnwinder. 1499 onward. Leonardo & Anonymous painter. Duke of Buccleuch. LateFlorenceYears Madonna of the Yarnwinder. 1501-7. Leonardo & Giacomo Salai (?). Private Collection. New York.
  41. 41. LateFlorenceYears The Virgin and Child with St Anne. 1508-13. Musee du Louvre, Paris. This painting depicts Virgin Mary sitting on the lap of her mother, St Anne, benting forward to give her son, Jesus support, as he played with the lamb. The lamb is the sacrificial lamb, which baby Jesus was holding. Mary symbolically pulls her son away from his terrible destiny. This subtle message of the painting is hidden by calm and serene figures. The figures of St Anne and Virgin Mary are jumbled together, with St Anne looking as young as her daughter. The arrangement of the three feet make it even easier to confuse the two women. All the figures are set against the backdrop of a striking mountains landscape. Consistently, Leonardo used mountain backdrop to give paintings their depth. The mountain backdrop can be found in his early painting of Annunciation, The Virgin of the Rocks, Madonna Litta, The Last Supper, the Mona Lisa etc. The presence of mountains in his paintings could also be connected to his interest in geological and hydrological studies. St Anne also carries one of Leonardo’s distinctive enigmatic smile.
  42. 42. LateFlorenceYears The Virgin and Child with St Anne. 1508-13. Musee du Louvre, Paris.
  43. 43. Cartoon : Virgin & Child with St Anne & St John the Baptist. c1501. National Gallery, London Late Florence Years The relation between this Leonardo’s Burlington House Cartoon in London and The Virgin and Child with St Anne in the Louvre is far from clear. Scholars are still uncertain. The drawing depicts Mary seated on her mother’s knee (St Anne) twisted to hold onto baby Jesus, who was preoccupied with his cousin St John the Baptist. Note St Anne was depicted on the same level as Mary and her right shoulder and her right arm was missing.
  44. 44. LateFlorenceYears Christ as Salvator Mundi. 1506 onward. Private Collection. The painting was last acquired in 2005. It has been authenticated by a group of experts in 2007. It was first exhibited in London in 2011, after its latest restoration. The painting shows Christ holding a clear crystal sphere, painted in delicacy and precision. It was painted for the King of France. Tiny specks of bubble in the globe, suggest it is made of quartz crystal. The secret knowledge of working the crystal into a sphere was lost at the time of the painting. Thus the spherical crystal was a representation of perfection. N ew find
  45. 45. In 1517 Leonardo went to France, at the invitation of Francis I. He died in May 1519, aged 67. Ingres painted the above in 1818, as he imagined that Leonardo died in the arms of Francis I, as his honoured guest. FranceThe last years 1517-1519
  46. 46. LeonardoPortraits Do you think the facial expressions of Leonardo’s portraits change with time?
  47. 47. LeonardoPortraits These faces were painted after 1500. Are the expressions looking different from the earlier faces?
  48. 48. LeonardoTimeline 1452 – 1519 67 years There are only about 16 paintings which are believed to be painted by Leonardo existing today, in the world.
  49. 49. All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial and personal use. Music – Julian Bream plays the Vivaldi Concerto in D for Lute and string RV93. “I am well aware that because I did not study the ancients, some foolish men will accuse me of being uneducated. They will say that because I did not learn from their school books, I am unqualified to express an opinion. But I would reply that my conclusions are drawn from first hand experience, unlike the scholars who only believe what they read in books written by others.” Leonardo da Vinci. A16C copy of Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari painted as fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. The End
  50. 50. Renaissance Painters

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