Leonardo Da Vinci - Mona Lisa

by Alexandra Tuschka


How to summarize what there is to say about the Mona Lisa? Let's start with this - it is without a doubt the most famous painting in the world. But have you ever wondered why actually?

There are many possible answers to this question - most often the Mona Lisa is associated with her "mysterious smile". Already in the first description of a contemporary of da Vinci, attention was drawn to this smile. Here, moreover, the anecdote is described that Leonardo kept the model amused with musicians while he painted her portrait. The soulful and lively portrayal of the sitter was highly appreciated even during her lifetime. Who she actually is has not been clarified to this day. Since da Vinci's homosexuality was also discussed, some researchers even wanted to recognize predominantly male features in the androgynous face.


Nevertheless, the fame of the painting will not be due to this detail alone, but above all to Leonardo's painting technique: the "sfumato" invented by him. This is a technique that envelops the motifs in a misty ground and makes the brushstrokes almost invisible. Leonardo achieved this impression of a cloudy atmosphere by laying thin layers of glaze mixed with white over the painting ground. In this way he created a shimmering, broken hue. With the finest brushstrokes, he distributed the paint application in such a way that the outlines of the motifs seem to flow into one another.


In addition, other details pose riddles - even the landscape in the background is not quite coherent, since the horizon line to the left of the Mona Lisa is much lower than to the right. Also, the painting has two vanishing points. Since da Vinci was a meticulous artist and a good observer, this may hardly be due to his inability.


Leonardo Da Vinci - Mona Lisa

Oil on poplar wood, 1503-1506, 77 cm × 53 cm, Louvre in Paris