Picture Study: Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci and How We Do Our Picture Study

Leonardo da Vinci  (1452 –1519)
We began our picture study of Leonardo da Vinci's works.

Mona Lisa 1503-1506 Oil on wood
77 x 53 cm (30 x 20 7/8 in.)
Louvre, Paris

Here is our first picture study this year that is does not have a religious theme. This is one of the best known paintings of all time. One of the most curious things about this painting in terms of background information is wondering why Leonardo da Vinci spent three years painting this portrait of the second wife of an unimportant merchant when all the nobles of Europe were begging for a portrait by his hand. My older students have been enjoying this speculation.

We completing our picture study in our usual fashion. In case you have not heard it before, here it is:

1. First my boys have a chance to each look at their own copy of the picture and once they have spent a few minutes looking at it, I ask them to tell me what they can about what this picture is about. (At this point, if I find it illuminates the picture, I will read a portion of a book about it.)
2. I then asked them to turn their pictures over and then, starting with the youngest, I ask them to tell me something they remember from the picture. They each must think of something new, so by the time it gets to the older students, it becomes a bit harder. I do my best to diffuse any competitive feelings that might arise. It is not a competition.
3. Sometimes I have them sketch what they remember from the picture. I want them to hone their skills at paying attention. If they know they will get a second chance to fill in more details, they will not put in as much effort of attention.
4. Post the picture so that it will be visible throughout the week. Sometimes they will choose, on their own, to sketch the picture again, putting in the details they missed. I let them, of course.

This is the Mona Lisa with a new digital technique that supposedly subtracts the effects of the varnish, revealing the true original colors.

Popular Posts