People ask, “Where do you get your inspiration?” From everywhere really: dreams, happenings, daily life and of course, other artists -it depends on the piece! A few years ago I re-did Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa by featuring myself in pink fur as the, “Furry Lisa.” I thought about this painting again recently when I came across this wonderful podcast on Spotify by BioGraphics on the life of Leonardo Da Vinci while I was painting the other day. YouTube video version:
I’ve always been in awe of his character, his interest and achievement in an array of subjects. He thought of how to tackle the possibility of human flight before anyone, he was an inventor and a dedicated artist. He followed his heart and from doing that, excelled and expanded the human imagination. One of my earliest memories of what an artist is and what an artist does was when my mom showed me a picture of the Mona Lisa. I connect with him today as I seemed to have wound up a bit of a Renaissance woman myself, being an artist and a nurse. It was interesting to learn about his own personal journey and learning about how painting fit into his life and what it meant to him.
I’ve read a number of biographies on the man and off the top of my head here are some things I remember, hopefully I’ve remembered them correctly. In his later life Da Vinci became hesitant to sign paintings until he sold them as his name alone brought great prominence to a painting and he became concerned with art thieves. The Mona Lisa did not reach world fame until it was stolen out of the Louvre museum. The thief believed it belonged to Italy as Da Vinci was Italian despite the artist spending his latter years in France. Back then nobody thought anyone would steal it, there was no security guarding it nor alarm systems to protect it. The thief simply visited the Louvre during opening hours, plucked it out from the frame and hid it in his coat and walked out. When it was stolen, the Mona Lisa made headlines world wide and people wrote love letters to the Mona Lisa daily. Since being recovered, the Mona Lisa is the most visited work of art in the Louvre, it now sits behind an enclosed case where crowds from all over the planet can only get so close to it. The painting is guarded with heavy security and the public can only look at it behind a red velvet rope. Here are my top favourite points from the podcast which I think further depicts the aura behind the Mona Lisa.
After chasing a long sought after dream career in war weaponry design and eventually seeing the horrors of war and disgusted, he quietly retired and with the money he made from weaponry, he settled back into the peaceful life of painting portraits. It was this time he painted the Mona Lisa, the only painting he did for himself and carried it around with him everywhere he went, always changing it, trying to perfect it. Born a bastard child, in his old age he died comfortably looked after by the king of France and with no children of his own, he left the bulk of his work including the Mona Lisa to his loyal apprentice ❤️