Leonardo wanted his paintings to express the laws of light and space and of sciences like anatomy, botany, and geology. He often accompanied condemned criminals to their execution to study the expressions on their faces and he dissected thirty cadavers to perfect his knowledge of anatomy. He was fascinated with the dynamic movement to be found in nature. He was considered a genius and a very handsome man and is still thought of as on e of the most gifted men in the human race.
One of the things that fascinated everyone about him was the enticing smile he painted on the faces of some women. It was called "more divine than human" and seemed to move before our eyes. The mystery of the smile is most often associated with the Mona Lisa, one of the world's most famous images, but it first appeared 20 years before in the angel from The Madonna of the Rocks.
There are several theories as to whose smile cast such a spell on Leonardo. One of them is Cecilia Gallerani, who was celebrated for her beauty and was painted by Leonardo when she was seventeen. However, no one knows where that portrait is. It is said that he painted her again as Lady with an Ermine and then as the angel in The Madonna of the Rocks. He seems to have loved the painting of the angel so much that he kept it for himself and painted another one.
Another theory is that, previous to Leonardo, painters outlined their figures, so that they stood away from the background in stiff, immobile poses. He deliberately omitted outlines, blurred and softened the corners of the eyes and mouth, blending light into shadow,... [continues]
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