HARRY J. JOHNSON

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The Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci between 1503 and 1505. The subject, a 24-year-old woman attired in the Florentine fashion of the time, is placed amid a dreamy, mountainous landscape. The Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile, seemingly both alluring and aloof, has given the work worldwide fame.

Leonardo (1452-1519), a Florentine artist, was one of the great masters of the High Renaissance, the prototype Renaissance man. Never has an artist been more deserving of being called genius. His numerous other talents, including architecture, aeronautics, anatomy, music, and writing, so consumed him that he didn't complete many of his paintings. However, he was particularly fond of the Mona Lisa and took it with him on many of his travels. Some say it’s a self portrait — Leonardo in drag.

Leonardo is noted for his landscape backgrounds. This, his most famous work, is recognized for its masterful technical innovations, including color transition, as well as for its mysterious smiling subject.

One common observation about the painting relates to its perceived surprisingly small size, as if its physical dimensions should some how equal its global popularity. The Mona Lisa's actual size is 21" wide by 30.5" tall, certainly not tiny, and obviously not as large as some of the other works in the Louvre (Paris), which are more than 20 feet wide and 10 feet tall.

The masterpiece has the disadvantage of being almost too famous, having nearly reached cliche status. It is usually surrounded by a throng of awestruck sightseers flashing cameras, giving the effect of a strobe light on the demure Mona.

Comparison to newly discovered Leonardo
Andy Warhol
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