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Buon Compleanno, Leonardo!

15 Apr

On April 15, 1452, Leonardo da Vinci was born in a small Tuscan village called Anchiano. He was a true polymath, a person whose expertise spanned a significant number of subject areas. Today, we celebrate this genius’ life as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, musician, inventor, mathematician, anatomist, botanist, geologist, cartographer and writer.

Presumed Self Portrait

Presumed Self Portrait

Da Vinci was the illegitimate child of Caterina, a domestic servant, and Sir Piero da Vinci, owner of the house where da Vinci was born. Today, the house is a museum where visitors are welcomed by da Vinci himself, well almost, as his life-sized hologram greets visitors and shares information about his life. In nearby Vinci, one can visit the www.museoleonardiano.it, which, according it its website, “is one of the most extensive and most original collections, providing critical knowledge of Leonardo in his historical context and in that of late Middle Ages and Renaissance.”

Among Da Vinci’s most famous works is the Vitruvian Man.

Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

Luc Viatour / http://www.Lucnix.be

This drawing, combining art and science, depicts a man in two superimposed positions. The picture represents da Vinci’s attempt to relate man to nature as he believed the human body was analogous to the workings of the universe. The drawing also contains notes based on the work of the architect Vitruvius. The original is kept in Venice in the Gallerie dell’ Accademia and made available to the public occasionally.

Another intriguing work of da Vinci is the Mona Lisa. On display at the Louvre in Paris, this painting is considered one of the most famous in the world.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

In 1503, Francesco del Giocondo commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to paint a portrait of his wife, Lisa, age 24. It is believed it took him about four years to complete due to other projects. Da Vinci, however, feeling the painting was unfinished, never delivered it to Francesco nor did he get paid for his work; it is undated and unsigned.

Another iconic painting of da Vinci’s is The Last Supper, in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

While many of Da Vinci’s works still exist, many more were lost over the years. Yet his notebooks containing sketches and scientific diagrams, as well as his thoughts on the nature of painting, provide continuing and immeasurable contributions to both art and science.

Happy Birthday #563 , Leonardo!

You graced this earth for 67 short years, but your brilliance will shine forever.

Ciao,

Judy

Mona Lisa Uncovered

1 Aug

Does the name Lisa Gherardini sound familiar? Well, it didn’t to me until I saw a news clip that caught my eye. Many experts believe that Lisa, the wife of Italian merchant Francesco del Giocondo, was the subject of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting, Mona Lisa. Now it seems that her bones may have been uncovered beneath the altar of the Convent of Saint Ursula in Florence, Italy.

The clipping intrigued me, mostly because I’m not sure I have ever wondered who Mona Lisa was. So, a bit of research uncovered some information I found very interesting:

  • Lisa was born in Florence, Italy, in 1479, and was the eldest of seven children.
  • In 1945, at the age of fifteen, she married Francesco del Giocondo, a successful merchant. Together they had five children. Two of their daughters became nuns, (which has to do with the location of the archaeological dig!)
  • In 1503, Francesco commissioned Leonardo DaVinci to paint a portrait of his wife, Lisa, age 24. It is believed it took him about four years to complete due to other projects. DaVinci, however, feeling the painting was unfinished, never delivered it to Francesco nor did he get paid for his work.
  •  The painting depicts Lisa as a fashionable woman as well as a faithful wife of her time, as shown through her right hand over her left.
  • The title of the painting, La Gioconda in Italian and La Joconde in French, refers to Lisa’s married name Giocondo, as well as the nickname La Jocund, meaning the merry one.
  • Monna Lisa was the original title. Monna is considered a contraction for Madonna, meaning Madam or My Lady.
  • After her husband died and Lisa’s health began to fail, daughter Marietta (a nun) cared for Lisa in the convent of Saint Ursula, where she is believed to be buried.
  • King Francis I of France acquired the painting in the 16th century and kept it in his chateau, The Fontainebleau. Many years later, it was hanging in Napoleon’s bedroom in the Tuileries. In 1797, it was moved to the Louvre where it became accessible to the masses for viewing.
  • On August 21, 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian carpenter who worked  at the Louvre, stole the painting from the wall of the Salon Carré. It was recovered 2 years later when he attempted to sell it to a Florentine antique dealer.
  • Mona Lisa is considered one of the most famous paintings in the world. About six million people visit the painting each year at the Louvre in Paris. It now hangs in the Salle de Etats, inventory number # 779. ( Great trivia!)
  • Mona Lisa is undated and unsigned.

For those who have had the joy of being in the Louvre, you might have been caught off guard by the size of the painting. For a portrait of its time, it was actually considered large. But for many today, including me, it’s hard not to be struck by the small size of perhaps the world’s most famous painting… 30 inches high by 20 7/8 inches wide (77cm by 53 cm). Nonetheless, her smile and eyes never fail to intrigue…and now we know about the hands!

As for unearthing the bones, click on the link for a great picture of the dig as well as an explanation.

http://dawn.com/2012/07/24/italian-archaeologists-close-in-on-real-mona-lisa/

Ciao,

Judy

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