A Study in Portraits – Da Vinci and Van Gogh

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A Study in Portraits – da Vinci and Van Gogh Two of the greatest artists of all time would have to be Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) and Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890). Da Vinci was an artistic genius, as well as an ingenious inventor and scientist, while Van Gogh was an artistic savant whose mental instability cut short a career of wonder and enlightenment. Both artists presented works that made people look both outside at the artwork itself as well as inside the individual viewer in order to interpret the work. Ultimately, it was their work in the style of portraiture that we can link the two artists. Da Vinci was one of the first artists of the Renaissance to use the three-quarter view as a pose for his subjects. This…show more content…
Another noticeable feature of the Mona Lisa would have to be her infamous smile. This is a smile that has been memorialized in literature and song for the past 500 years. The thought behind this smile has been one of antiquity’s favorite discussions, with opinions ranging from the state of her mind to whether the smile is really even hers. Da Vinci himself may have had some fun with this as he wrote in his Treatise on Painting that the painter is so influenced by his own character that “it guides the painter’s arm and makes him reproduce himself” (Ripley, 44). Looking at both of these paintings, I am overwhelmed with the depths of emotions that you can see within these two works. In the Mona Lisa, there is the air of mystery that surrounds the woman. Who is she? Is she the wife of a patron? Or perhaps she is a self-portrait of da Vinci himself? No one knows the true answer although biographer Giorgio Vasari surmised that she was the Madam Lisa Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Florentine silk merchant (Treasures of the World – Mona Lisa). Either way, this air of mystery that surrounds her enhances the beauty of the work of art that da Vinci created. In contrast, Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait shows the artist in his element. By the usage of color, you can imagine that Van Gogh was still recovering from the ill effects of his sickness by both the whitish pale of his skin as well as the green hints that
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