Contrasting Three Works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Heather McKim
ART 101 Art Appreciation
Instructor Anne Olden
April 14, 2013
This final paper will be contrasting three works of Leonardo da Vinci and three works of Michelangelo. Leonardo da Vinci created works such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and the Vitruvian Man. Michelangelo created works such as the Creation of Adam, the Last Judgment, and the Statue of David and Leonardo da Vinci was a High Renaissance artist which epitomized the humanist ideal. Michelangelo was and Italian Renaissance artist which influenced the Western Art. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is most likely the world’s most famous portrait. Portraits were more about likeness, it spoke to status and position. The Mona Lisa was once this type of portrait, however, over time the meaning shifted and became an icon of the Renaissance. (Harris & Zucker, n.d.) However, the sitter’s identity is still a mystery. Giorgio Vasari asserted she was Lisa di Antonio Maria Gherardini. Lisa di Antonia Maria Gherardini was the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine. The Italian contraction of Mona is ma donna “my lady”; thus being named Mona Lisa. (Kleiner, 2010). The Mona Lisa is likely a portrait of the wife of a Florentine merchant. Therefore, making her gaze meant for her husband. The portrait was never delivered to its patron so Leonardo da Vinci kept the painting with him when he went to work for Francis I, the king of France. (Harris & Zucker, n.d.). The landscape of the Mona Lisa is a harmonious figure. It has been thought that it was to be an expression of the analogy that Leonardo da Vinci drew elsewhere between the human body and the body of the earth. (Smith, 1985). Leonardo was a master of chiaroscuro and atmospheric perspective, which he used on the Mona Lisa, and also contemporary personalities. Atmospheric perspectives involve optical phenomena. Artists using atmospheric (aerial) perspective exploits the principle that the farther back the object is in space, the blurrier, less detailed, and bluer it appears. Color saturation and value contrast diminish as the images recede into the distance. (Kleiner, 2010). In Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait, the face is nearly frontal, the shoulders are turned three-quarters toward the viewer, and the hands are included in the image. He also uses his characteristic sfumato—a smokey haziness to soften the outlines and create an atmospheric effect around the figures. (Harris & Zucker, n.d.). Leonardo da Vinci combined these Northern innovations with Italian paintings understanding of the three dimensionality of the body and the perspectival treatment of the surrounding space. (Harris & Zucker, n.d.). The Last Supper was painted on the refectory wall of the Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan. The Last Supper was calculated to produce an impression. It is twenty-eight feet long with the figures being about 10 feet high. (O’Conor Eccles, 1887). The position and the surroundings are what attracts the attention. “Could anything be nobler or more appropriate to a refectory than a representation of that parting meal which all nations have regarded with veneration from the earliest ages of Christianity?” (O’Conor Eccles, 1887). On the opposite side of the entrance on the far end of the room stands the prior’s table. The table is elevated a foot from the ground as well as two others for the monks placed one on each side. This is so the community is in their places. On the fourth wall there is a fourth table where Christ and his disciples are seated. (O’Conor Eccles, 1887). The subject of the Last Supper is Christ’s final meal with his apostles before Judas identifies Christ to the authorities who arrest him. (Harris & Zucker, n.d.). The Last Supper, a Passover Seder, is remembered for two events: Christ says to his apostles “One of you will betray me,” and the apostles react, each according to his own...
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