Leonardo da Vinci, “Mona Lisa” essay

Mona Lisa stresses the human beauty but, in contrast to Michelangelo’s David, da Vinci focuses on female beauty. Mona Lisa marks the progress of the Renaissance art as unique, original art, different from classical, ancient Roman art. In fact, Mona Lisa is the quintessence of the progress and achievements of the Renaissance art. Leonardo da Vinci attempted to make his painting realistic but, at the same time, his unique technique made his work different from all others. At the same time, the skillful use of light and shade reveals the achievement of the Renaissance artist in the depiction of humans. Mona Lisa is the ideal of the female beauty of the Renaissance era.

The artist that was probably among the first who started to experiment and break traditional norms in painting, and in fact not only in painting, was Leonardo da Vinci. Unlike, Dali and van Gogh he was more than a painter or philosopher, he was also a great scientist that naturally reflected in his works. By the way, this is probably the most distinguishing feature that made him different from all other painters, including the two discussed above, who tended to a certain degree to abstract from reality.

Probably the most famous work created by da Vinci as a painter is Mona Lisa, a portrait of a woman, known as La Gioconda, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. It is a very particular painting in which da Vinci’s style is emphasized for this figure of a woman, dressed in the Florentine fashion of her day and seated in a visionary, mountainous landscape, is a remarkable instance of Leonardo’s sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling (Cuelar 1999:120). The Mona Lisa’s enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame.

It is noteworthy that the slight opening of the lips at the corners of the mouth was considered in that period a sign of elegance. Thus Mona Lisa has that slight smile which enters into the gentle, delicate atmosphere pervading the whole painting (Cuelar 1999:145). To achieve this effect, Leonardo uses the sfumato technique, a gradual dissolving of the forms themselves, continuous interaction between light and shade and an uncertain sense of the time of day.

Probably the most striking thing in this painting is the vividness of the depiction of Mona Lisa, she really looks alive that is the effect of a peculiar technique of da Vinci. However, it is not only the smile and posture of Mona Lisa that contributed to such an effect but it is also the landscape behind the woman that enforce the impression of vividness of the portrait. Obviously, while creating this painting, the artist used all his scientific knowledge to create the portrait as close to real life as possible.


Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci had had a considerable impact on the development of Italian and European art in the Renaissance. On the one hand, Michelangelo tended to more classical forms, close to ancient art, whereas Leonardo da Vinci attempted to create progressive Renaissance works of art, which marked the overall progress of art. Both artists reached perfection in their art and their works became hallmarks of the Renaissance art that had influenced the further development of European art. Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci developed their own original and unique styles. Their works of art are unique and different from each other. At the same time, their technique and original styles made the breakthrough in the development of the Renaissance art in Italy and Europe.

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