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The unwavering charm of Mona Lisa

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What is it in the painting of Mona Lisa that makes jaws drop when someone sees it for the first time? Why is there a sense of mystique surrounding this piece of art by Leonardo Da Vinci? There are probably a number of reasons that make this painting enjoy the celestial position that it has today.

The Mona Lisa sits majestically in the centre of Louvre in Paris. The influence of Paris and its art critics could be an important contributing factor that made Mona Lisa a cult piece of art over the centuries. Also essential was Leonardo’s persona, which was quite unlike his contemporaries in the world of art. He had an unflinching aura of a magician that distinguished him from others.

What is amazing is the fact that Mona Lisa is not felt and interpreted the way it was done by people in the past. If you try and accomplish in seeing the painting as people did centuries ago, you will find Mona Lisa astoundingly different! It is an enigmatic, shifting, indescribable masterpiece, and probably it was this very obscureness that held the interest of those who saw it in the past.

The beauty of Mona Lisa is that at least three portraits have been synchronized within it concurrently. The first one is that of a gorgeous and attractive woman from the Renaissance, sitting comfortably and smiling at the observer. But a closer look at it and you can sense an air of melancholy and anguish coming through the painting. And just when the viewer is trying to come to terms with this image, another impression follows…the impression of that of a lurid danger. This portrayal even made Walter Pater, the great 19th-century essayist, to say in one of his famous essays that “she is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave.”

So it was not only her beauty that captivated the minds of the critics of the 19th century. It was a combination of the images of beauty, sadness and beastliness that absorbed their attention. These qualities still reside in Mona Lisa, but only to those who can scrape the surface and look deeper.

Leonardo’s work has been aptly rewarded over the centuries purely because of its originality that takes in all the other qualities. I think this quote by Will Rogers sums it all… ““Mona Lisa is the only beauty who went through history and retained her reputation”.

Written by Jaspreet Kaur

June 6, 2009 at 6:54 pm