Concepts and Ideas of the Mona Lisa portrait by Leonardo da Vinci

Items and pictures as a reflection of a society's alignment

Items and pictures tend to describe a society's overall alignment. The pieces can be used to summarize any specific group's historical journey or origin. Furthermore, by doing a critical examination of certain objects and images, one may easily comprehend the medieval way of life, religious dispensations, and numerous interactions. It is also important to note that the artefacts aim to retrace the deep history of every given civilisation around the world. Furthermore, the tangibility of the items makes the objects very valuable elements for learning about any given society as they act as memory builders and provide the community with a specific sense of origin. In this case, they help to create memory and also bring meaning and sense of belonging to the ancient culture. Hence, this paper seeks to analyze the portrait called Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci in consideration of the environment of the ancient Italy and how it depicts the society in which it was painted.

Leonardo da Vinci and his contributions during the Renaissance period

Leonardo da Vinci is recognized as one of the most famous artists who played a central role during the Renaissance period. The artist was born in 1452 and died in 1519 at the age of 67. During his life, he managed to develop various theories and also came up with vital ideas which contributed a lot to the current society. He is widely remembered as a result of his prowess in coming up with artistic works which outwardly reflect the overall setting of the society (Hales 109). Additionally, he is perceived as the very critical scientist, architect, and an engineer who played a central role in revolutionizing the ancient region of Florence. Some of the major art works which continuingly play a role in the modern literature include the painting of The Last Supper, referring to the Christian faith, the famous sketch of The Vitruvian Man, and the Mona Lisa portrait. All these objects explain how the society carried itself, what religious beliefs it upheld and respectively impacted the development of specific aspects.

The Mona Lisa and its significance in history

The Mona Lisa painting is termed as one of the most famous paintings which are in existence over several generations. It is sometimes referred to as the La Jaconde (French), given the fact it is believed to be the exact picture of Francesco del Giaconda's wife who was named Lisa. In contrast, the identity of the picture was later disputed and thus the uncertainty of the sitter brings about an additional mystery which surrounds the entire context of the picture. The portrait is an oil painting done on a poplar wood. The poplar panel serves a crucial role as it describes the type of elements which the individuals of ancient Florence used to describe their society. It portrays a mysterious smile which sends various messages to the observer and can be interpreted in several ways. The work of art presents an aspect of harmony which is evident in the entire painting. Thus, it provides an idea of how Leonardo tries to connect humanity and nature (Hales 167). Therefore, through the picture, we can get an idea of how Leonardo in particular and the whole society perceived women.

The portrayal of the renaissance woman in the Mona Lisa

In the painting, it is evident that Leonardo portrays the image of the renaissance woman as extraordinary. The statement can be evidenced by the fact that the artist focuses more on the aspect of naturalism which he represents. In this case, Kemp points out that Da Vinci makes use of the Sfumato technique which is observed by how light bounces off her skin while leaving other parts with shadows. In a visual analysis, one can easily note that the woman's skin appears smooth and soft and seems quite real (Kemp and Pallanti 56). Kemp goes ahead to point out that the eyebrows distinctively expose the hairs which spring naturally from the flesh. Hence, the portrait depicts how the craftsman worked to expose the elements of realism by depicting the women in the society. The overall representation of the feminine beauty and the naturalism of the ancient woman is adequately presented in this masterpiece. There is also a faint smile which can be noted from a distance. It can be used to describe the state of the women and the naturalness of the overall condition in the community.

The societal orientation in the background of the painting

Despite the element of realism, the background provides an overview of the society in which the craftsman is located. The background serves to give the societal orientation of the people and the specific economic practices of the community. In his analysis of the ancient paintings, Kemp notes that a well-scripted portrait provides a notable idea of the craftsman vision. For the case of the Mona Lisa, the background is filled with the vast landscape present in Florence. On the top left side, we can see the roads and mountains painted in a specific way, which is to a certain extent similar to the Chinese landscapes. Following the analysis of the right upper shoulder, one can observe a road which directs to a distant sea (Hales 57). The enormous landscape in the drawing provides the observer with a compelling juxtaposition of the overall painting. Comparing the two features including the background and the woman, we can deduce a very sharp contrast which is artistically important. The woman presents a touchable element which is real and lifelike unlike the background filled with roads and bridges. Hence, the overall difference between the woman and the landscape in the background helps to increase the power of the painting. Through this, we can deduce that every part of the art serves to convey a given piece of information to the targeted audience (Hales 200).

The position of women in the Medieval Italian society

The piece of art was crafted during a period when the women were not adequately considered in the Italian society. It is a complete deviation of how the position of women was valued in the Medieval Italian society. From the portrait, Mona Lisa gazes directly at the viewer, which was something the women during the Renaissance period were not in a position to do. Additionally, women were not allowed to stare while, in a picture, Mona Lisa appears content in her demeanor, which reflected handsomely on aristocratic men rather than women during that period. Kemp, in his analysis of ancient culture, notes that in the given time period, crafts belonging to both men and women were typically trimmed from the center torso and the hands were a bit raised (Kemp and Pallanti 113). The practice of creating the portraits in this form aimed at making the face more conspicuous while ignoring the features of the body. For the case of Leonardo's painting, it is evident that he exposes the skin of Mona Lisa, which seems a taboo in the society's setting. The drawing brings into account the aspect of upholding female chastity and maintains their purity for the safety of the society.

The mystery and interpretation of the Mona Lisa

The mystery in the Mona Lisa is also a monumental issue to reckon. The lady in the portrait has an unknown identity, which makes it an important asset in describing the craftsman intention of drawing the image. In this case, Kemp points out that the lack of identity works to create curiosity in the mind of the viewer, which ultimately serves the purpose of describing the craftsman's intentions (Kemp and Pallanti 90). Additionally, the portrait of Mona Lisa is simple and does not contain any material elements, which also raises more questions about the intentions of the author. Respectively, it is evident that the artist was primarily interested in exposing the beauty of the lady rather than concentrating on the material elements which existed and were associated with the women in the ancient days. In consideration of this idea, the author seeks to argue that the beauty of a woman does not necessarily rely on the material wealth she wears but rather on the natural skin and the simple materials which she wears. The faint smile perplexes the viewer since one cannot necessarily contextualize the intentions with which the craftsman included it in the finished portrait.

The perspective and architectural influence of the Mona Lisa

The object explores the notion through the open window perspective. In one of the journals by Kemp, he points out the words of Da Vinci stating that the perspective is nothing else than seeing objects behind a plane glass, quite transparent on the surface of which the objects behind the glass are to be drawn (Kemp and Pallanti 46). In ancient Italian society, many architects worked to solve the question of drawing elements in three dimensions on a flat surface. Through the masterpiece by Leonardo, the concept of the three-dimension paintings works to prove the advancements in the architectural knowledge in Italy of that time. Therefore, the painting plays a critical role in the advancement of the architectural designs which are practiced in the current generation. Through the analysis of the Mona Lisa, it is evident that a new direction in the architectural field was created and contributes wholesomely to the architectural ideas existing and being practiced in this generation.

The societal expectations and values reflected in the Mona Lisa

Conclusively, it is evident that the objects in the historical ages play a critical role in determining the societal expectations of respective generation (Cooper 1). The position of the woman in the society can easily be assumed through a critical analysis of the Mona Lisa. The beauty and realness of women are adequately exposed through the work of art. Leonardo intended to expose the natural beauty of women in any given societal setting. Therefore, it is evident from the drawing that Leonardo was able to share his notion of the feminine beauty and capture the vast grace of the women in the society through the portrait of Mona Lisa. The landscape in the background also serves to capture the aspects of the society and how they impact the overall dispensation of the society. In summary, it is vital to note that ancient objects play a huge role in dictating the societal orientation of any society just as in the case of Mona Lisa, a renowned and highly mysterious Leonardo's painting.


The Mona Lisa painting. Retrieved from 23rd August 2017.

Works Cited

Cooper, Yichien. "Art on a Trashcan: Art for Life with a Twist." Journal of Art for Life, vol. 6, no. 1. 2014, pp. 1-13.

Hales, Dianne. Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered. Reprint. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. Print.

Kemp, Martin, and Giuseppe Pallanti. Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting., 2017. Print.

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