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The Barker Code
of Color/Fabric Representation

Museum Masterpieces

Mona Lisa

Homage to "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci (2011), mixed media, 26 x 19.

“Mona Lisa” also known as “La Gioconda” (The Happy One), was painted in oil on a poplar wood panel, 30 x 21 inches. Started around 1503, Leonardo worked on it intermittently until his death.

Leonardo da Vinci was born April 14, 1452, and his artistic talents were recognized early. At the time of his death in 1519, he was widely regarded as one of the greatest geniuses the world had ever known, a reputation that remains intact five hundred years later.

Briefly described: The Mona Lisa’s glowing face is in the center of the picture, with her neck in a shadow, surrounded by her dark hair and dress. Her eyes are deep set and there are shadows below her brow. She has a slightly lighter black shawl around her shoulders, and her hands are crossed in her lap while her elbow rests on the arm of the chair. The background is a landscape with muted blue, brown and green mountains, rivers and paths.

More about the picture: Traditionally the portrait is said to be of Lisa Gherardini, commissioned by her husband, Francesco del Giaconda after the birth of their second child when she was about 24 years old. There are many competing theories about her identity, the reason behind her enigmatic expression and her slight smile. Note that she has no eyebrows or eye lashes. They may have gradually disappeared through years of cleaning, or it might have been the custom for women to pluck out facial hair because fashion said it was unsightly.

More about the artist: Leonardo abilities as an artist were in great demand and he achieved fame during his lifetime for his compositional innovations and his use of light and color. Leonardo was also an inventor, scientist, engineer, architect and designer. He earned his living not only by painting but from principalities for whom he designed siege weapons. He made the first accurate drawings of the human anatomy, studied the circulation of the blood and the action of the eye. His scientific theories, like his artistic innovations, were based on careful observation and precise documentation. He understood, better than anyone of his century or the next, the importance of precise scientific observation. Unfortunately, he often left projects unfinished as new ideas crowded his mind. He had notebooks full of theories on a variety of scientific subjects that he never got around to exploring fully. Had his findings been published, they would have revolutionized the science of the 16th century.

SallyB’s comments: Mona Lisa can still charm. I felt compelled to work on the picture, and it was hard to lay it down or take a break. She seemed to call to me, even in the middle of the night.