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  • Some people are dissapointed when they first see the most famous painting in the world.

  • At first glance it doesn't have the "wow factor" that other paintings in the Louvre have.

  • It lacks drama.

  • But if we can ignore the hundreds of people that surround her.

  • If we can turn down the volume and just push the "off button" for a second.

  • What we actually see, is a quiet, contemplative portrait.

  • A portrait that is the greatest psychological portrait ever painted.

  • A portrait so ahead of its time, that centuries later, we are still trying to figure it out.

  • In 1517, the French king, King Francis I, offered Leonardo a job,

  • court painter - and engineer - and architect - to the King.

  • Leonardo, now in his sixties, moved to the Château of Amboise in France, and never went back to Italy.

  • He brought with him dozens of sketch books like these.

  • But just one painting... the Mona Lisa.

  • Leonardo knew how important it was. he knew it was a masterpiece.

  • Mona Lisa, is the end product of the greatest inquisitive mind in history.

  • A self-made man with a voracious appetite for knowledge.

  • A man who dedicated himself to the study of anatomy, geology and philosophy.

  • For Mona Lisa he used a thin grained piece of poplar tree

  • and applied an undercoat of lead white.

  • Leonardo painted with glazes that had a very small amount of pigment mixed with the oil.

  • So, how dark you want your glaze to be, depends on how much pigment you use.

  • He used more like a 'wash', which he applied thin, layer by layer.

  • Here you can see, two colours of contrast: Light and Dark.

  • When you apply glaze over both of them, you can see it starts to unify the contrast,

  • but also brings depth and luminosity.

  • The lead white undercoat reflects the light back through his glazes,

  • giving the picture more depth, and in essence, "Lighting" Mona Lisa from within.

  • As we move around the painting, that light shifts around.

  • He used tiny, almost invisible brushstrokes,

  • applied super slowly over months. Or in Mona Lisa's case, years.

  • By contrast, on her skin, brush strokes were applied in an irregular way.

  • And that makes the grain of the skin look more life-like.

  • All of these techniques pioneered by Leonardo, bring the painting to life.

  • Actually, let's start with what she's NOT wearing.

  • When was the last time you employed a professional photographer?

  • The answer is usually a wedding or a prom.

  • What were you wearing in your prom photo?

  • Your best clothes? Your best jewellery? Of course.

  • Being painted by one of the most celebrated and in demand painters of the day,

  • is your chance to really 'show off'.

  • And yet Mona Lisa is stripped of all the usual high status symbols.

  • Her clothes are nothing special, they tell us nothing.

  • Instead of the usual flamboyant, expensive outfits we usually see

  • in commissioned portraits of the aristocracy, hers are pretty simple for a wealthy woman.

  • Along with the complete lack of jewellery and the simple hair

  • they serve one purpose and one purpose only.

  • Leonardo made sure, we would not be distracted from the face of Mona Lisa.

  • Leonardo, uses the classic pyramid shaped composition that was introduced during the Renaissance.

  • It is an important change from the paintings of the 15th century.

  • The structure provides stability, but more importantly it provides a clear centre of focus,

  • and directs your gaze. In Mona Lisa's case it is pulling us into her face.

  • The Mona Lisa, is the earliest Italian portrait to focus on the sitter

  • in a three quarter length pose, rather than full-length. Why?

  • Because he completely fills the frame with his subject.

  • Making the painting more intimate AND cutting down on distractions.

  • This three quarter length pose becomes the norm for four hundred years after Leonardo pioneers it.

  • Today, we look at Mona Lisa's pose and it seems fairly normal.

  • But for its day, it was groundbreaking.

  • Previously subjects were stiff and upright. Aristocratic.

  • But Mona Lisa is relaxed, her hands are resting gently on the arm of her chair

  • As she turns towards us

  • Almost... as if its a snapshot.

  • Mona Lisa is also rather content and self-assured,

  • which is more how aristocratic men were portrayed, not women.

  • We are looking directly into her eyes and she is looking directly at us.

  • Women in paintings just didn't do that.

  • They didn't look boldly and directly at the viewer.

  • The entire painting deviated from the traditional way

  • women were painted in Italy.

  • Portraits were usually done with an open sky as the background,

  • a monotone background, or a simple room.

  • Mona Lisa is in front of a complicated landscape

  • that only existed in Leonardo's imagination.

  • Paintings of this period had both the subject and the background

  • in sharp focus. Whereas the background of Mona Lisa

  • seems to fade or become more blurred and out of focus, the further

  • from the subject it extends. This is aerial perspective.

  • And Leonardo invented it.

  • Behind Mona Lisa, the vast landscape recedes to distant icy mountains.

  • A path and a bridge are our only indication of human presence.

  • The curves of her hair and clothing, reflect the rolling valleys and rivers behind her,

  • connecting humanity and nature.

  • A favourite theme of Leonardo's.

  • The earth seems to twist like her torso.

  • Look at the river on the right.

  • It flows into the scarf over her left shoulder.

  • We see that she is connected with the earth.

  • There is another visual trick that gives the illusion of movement.

  • The horizon of the landscape does not quite line up behind the figure.

  • It is very slightly skewed. Whilst her shoulders are painted level

  • Leonardo knew that our brains would struggle with this conflicting visual information.

  • We know that the horizon should line up so we read it as level.

  • This then cause us to interpret the shoulders as being on a slant. Which they are not.

  • As our brain corrects this, it creates an illusion of movement,

  • as if the figure 'shuffles' a little bit in its frame.

  • The effect only works with paintings. Not sculptures or real-life,

  • since the elements of perspective and light and shadow are fixed in a painting,

  • and don't change.

  • They look the same, no mater from what angle you look at it.

  • It's a real phenomena, but not unique to this painting.

  • The first technique he invented was "sfumato" meaning "smoky".

  • Sfumato is a blending technique for softening the transition between colours

  • to make sure there are no sharp unnatural lines.

  • Through layers and layers of those thin, semi-transparent glazes,

  • he blended everything sfumato style.

  • His brush strokes so subtle as to be invisible to the naked eye.

  • In essence, the sfumato technique takes painting one stage further.

  • It allows us to look at a painting the way our eyes work tonally.

  • It allows 'depth of field', never seen in a painting before Mona Lisa.

  • We can see what a master of sfumato he was, when we look at the shading around Mona Lisa's eyes.

  • The other technique he invented is "Chiaroscuro" from the Italian for "light/dark"

  • Where he contrasts prominent shade of light and dark to create the illusion of 3-dimensional forms.

  • Seeing Mona Lisa for the first time five hundred years ago, must have been astonishing.

  • Then there is the smile that brings everything together.

  • Before, during, and long after the renaissance, artists did not paint their subjects smiling.

  • When you think about it, portraits are generally very serious.

  • It's easy enough to smile for a few minutes, but not for the weeks, if not months it takes to paint a portrait.

  • Leonardo kept her happy though, by employing musicians and jesters.

  • Look at her for a while.

  • Really look into her eyes.

  • First she is smiling and then she is not.

  • The smile comes and go's as we scan the face.

  • But when we look away, the smile lingers.

  • When Leonardo was perfecting Mona Lisa's smile

  • he was spending his nights in the morgues, peeling the flesh off cadavers, exposing the muscles and nerves underneath.

  • He became fascinated by how a smile works, and analysed every possible movement

  • of each part of the face. Working out the origins of every nerve

  • that controls every facial muscle.

  • We can see this research in his anatomical drawings.

  • Here we see puckered lips, pouting lips, the muscles that move the mouth.

  • Then almost forgotten... at the top of this page, is a simple drawing of a gentle smile,

  • sketched lightly in black chalk. Even though the fine lines at the end of the mouth turn down slightly,

  • The feeling is, that the lips are smiling.

  • This simple anatomical drawing, is the beginning of Mona Lisa's smile.

  • Astonishingly, Leonardo already knew from his optic studies

  • that light rays do not come to a single point in the eye, but instead, hit the whole area of the retina.

  • And this is the key to her enigmatic smile.

  • In the year 2000, Dr. Margaret Livingstone, a Harvard neuroscientist,

  • discovered that Mona Lisa's smile comes and go's because of how the human visual system is designed,

  • not because the expression is ambiguous.

  • She explained that the human eye has two distinct regions for seeing the world.

  • A central area called the "Fovea" is where people see colours, read fine-print, and pick out details.

  • And the "peripheral" area surrounding the Fovea is where people see black and white, motion and shadows.

  • When we look at a face, we spend most of the time focused on the other person's eyes.

  • So when a person's centre of gaze is on Mona Lisa's eyes.

  • The less accurate peripheral vision is on her mouth.

  • And because peripheral vision is not interested in specific details,

  • it also picks up shadows from Mona Lisa's cheekbones.

  • This is where both his sfumato and chiaroscuro techniques, come into their own.

  • As we look into her eyes, the shadows and tones suggest the curvature of a smile.

  • But when your eyes go directly to Mona Lisa's mouth, your central vision doesn't see the shadows.

  • And she isn't smiling. Smirking at best.

  • We can prove this theory, quite simply, by staring directly into her eyes,

  • and think about how much she is smiling.

  • Then scan back and forth between her eyes and her lips, and her expression changes.

  • That is NOT your imagination. It is all to do with how we SEE - not how we THINK.

  • The genius of Leonardo is that he understood this five hundred years ago!

  • The Mona Lisa became the most famous painting in the world. Not just because of hype or chance.

  • But because for five hundred years, viewers have been able to feel an emotional engagement with her.

  • Before the Mona Lisa, portraits lacked mystery. Artists only represented outward appearances.

  • Mona Lisa however is "alive'. A living, breathing woman.

  • With a soul.

  • When you stand in front of the Mona Lisa, you are looking at more than just a portrait of an individual.

  • You are looking at the accumulated knowledge of a genius.

  • Who blended art, science and "magic" to create a profound meditation

  • on what it means to be human.

  • Whether she is "Mona Lisa", "La Gioconda", or "La Joconde",

  • she is the face of a revolution in art.

Some people are dissapointed when they first see the most famous painting in the world.

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解析偉大藝術:李奧納多達芬奇《蒙娜麗莎》(Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci: Great Art Explained)

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    Jared Yeh 發佈於 2021 年 08 月 04 日
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