Monday, July 19, 2010

How do you paint a Mona Lisa? You need to be a perfectionist, and give yourself 4 years

Tradition holds that the Mona Lisa is a painting of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo, and that da Vinci started painting it in 1503.

Giorgio Vasari, a 16th-century painter and biographer of da Vinci and other artists, wrote that the perfectionist da Vinci worked on it for four years.

SHOOT: It's fascinating the effort involved. I reckon using photography one can create a similar effect of subtlety, where the picture is slightly out of focus and one fills in the soft space in one's own mind.
clipped from
Paris - The enigmatic smile remains a mystery, but French scientists say they have cracked a few other secrets of the Mona Lisa.
French researchers studied seven of the Louvre Museum's Leonardo da Vinci paintings, including the Mona Lisa, to analyse the master's use of successive ultrathin layers of paint and glaze - a technique that gave his works their dreamy quality.
Specialists from the Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety.
Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometres, or about half the thickness of a human hair, researcher Philippe Walter said on Friday.
The technique, called "sfumato," allowed da Vinci to give outlines and contours a hazy quality and create an illusion of depth and shadow.
The analysis of the various paintings also shows da Vinci was constantly trying out new methods, Walter said.
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