29. Juni 2021

Come together Lesson 29

A visit to the Mona Lisa (I)
A group of tourists are standing in front of the Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre. They are talking to the English-speaking tour guide.
Guide: And here we have the Mona Lisa. It probably is the most famous and most valuable painting in the world.
  It is also the most visited and most imitated work of art in the world.
Tourist: Do we actually know who the Mona Lisa was?
Guide: She was the wife of a rich merchant who lived in Florence, Italy.           
During the Renaissance period, it was a sign of position and status in society to have a portrait painted.
Tourist: And was her name actually Mona Lisa?
Guide: Well, it is believed that the painting was commissioned by Francesco del Giocondo, a rich silk merchant, who wanted a portrait of his wife, Lisa.
´Monna` is a contraction of Madonna, which is Madam in Italian, a title used for married women.
In Italian she is also called ´La gioconda`.
The interesting thing is that ´giocondo/gioconda` also means ´joyful` in Italian and that is what the painting is supposed to express: joy.
Tourist: How old is the lady in the painting?
Guide: She is believed to have been 24 years old at the time.
Tourist: When was the Mona Lisa painted?
Guide: It was painted sometime between 1503 and 1519, so it is around 500 years old.
The work has been moved around quite a lot and has lived with Francois I, Louis XIV and Napoleon.
Tourist: Can you tell us something about the painting techniques used?
Guide: First of all, it is an oil painting on a poplar wooden panel, not canvas!
The technique used by Leonardo da Vinci is called ´sfumato`
which basically means the blending of colours without the use of borders and lines, just like smoke.
Tourist: Why does she have no eyebrows?
Guide: In the year 2007 a French engineer analysed the painting using ultra-high-resolution scans,
which showed that Mona Lisa was actually painted with eyebrows and eyelashes.
However, the eyebrows and eyelashes disappeared over time due to over-cleaning.
Tourist: What makes the Mona Lisa so mystical? What’s up with her smile?
Guide: Well, unfortunately it is difficult to see all the details, because she is behind this glass.
But it seems that Mona Lisa is smiling and then after some time it seems that the smile has faded away.

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