looking for clues: a smile for arcadia

In Freud’s Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, Freud found similarities between jokes and work of art. Though not known as much of a comic or given to the guffaw, Freud found the humor in the sketch of the “love-child”. As Spruill said, that child was the product of breaking the rules which purport to separate science from art, rules which would dictate conformity and submission to authority rather than revolution, and rules which call only for conventional solutions to oedipal dilemmas.

Giorgio Vasari:

Leonardo undertook to execute, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife; and after toiling over it for four years, he left it unfinished; and the work is now in the collection of King Frances of France, at Fontainebleau. In this head, whoever wished to see how closely art could imitate nature, was able to comprehend it with ease; for in it were counterfeited all the minutenesses that with subtlety are able to be painted, seeing that the eyes had that lustre and watery sheen which are always seen in life, and around them were all those rosy and pearly tints, as well as the lashes, which cannot be represented without the greatest subtlety….

---Nick Squires:Most scholars believe Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous portrait depicts Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine silk merchant. But Silvano Vinceti, the head of a team of researchers, believes instead that the painting was inspired by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, who began working with the Renaissance master as a child and became one of his most trusted companions. He said several of Leonardo’s works, including two paintings of St John the Baptist and a lesser-known drawing called “Angel Incarnate,” were based on Caprotti. All of them portray a slim, rather effeminate youth with curly hair. There were striking similarities between those works and that of the Mona Lisa, particularly in the depiction of mouths and noses, said Mr Vinceti, the head of the National Committee for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. --- Read More:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/8299190/Mona-Lisa-was-a-boy.html

…The eyebrows, through his having shown the manner in which the hairs spring from the flesh, here more close and here more scanty, and curve according to the pores of the skin, could not be more natural. The nose, with its beautiful nostrils, rosy and tender, appeared to be alive. The mouth, with its opening, and with its ends united by the red of the lips to the flesh-tints of the face, seemed, in truth, to be not colours but flesh. In the pit of the throat, if one gazed upon it intently, could be seen the beating of the pulse. And, indeed, it may be said that it was painted in such a manner as to make every valiant craftsman, be he who he may, tremble and lose heart….

---But perhaps leaving the columns in the painting would have been just too much of a giveaway for Leonardo’s taste. The original version in the Louvre appears not to have been cut down, however, most who analyze this work find it hard to avoid concluding that the intended setting for Leonardo’s Mona Lisa must have been on a colonnaded balcony. Let’s not forget that Hermetic messages are not necessarily for all, but only for those with ‘eyes to see’. In fact, if we look closely, the tips of what certainly appear to column bases can still be clearly seen, creating a somewhat peculiar design element or perhaps a clue to that cryptic smile--- Read More:http://divertimentodavinci.blogspot.com/2009/03/mona-lisa-freemasonry-and-sigil-of.html

…He made use, also, of this device: Mona Lisa being very beautiful, he always employed, while he was painting her portrait, persons to play or sing, and jesters, who might make her remain merry, in order to take away that melancholy which painters are often wont to give to the portraits that they paint. And in this work of Leonardo’s there was a smile so pleasing, that it was a thing more divine than human to behold; and it was held to be something marvellous, since the reality was not more alive. Read More:http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/vasari1.html


Picasso once said that every good work of art is a kind of joke. Diego Rivera, the revolutionary Mexican muralist, agreed. Every piece of worthwhile art, properly understood, is not only like a joke, it is shocking. It must connect its elements in a new way; the world comes to be seen in a new way. A punch line of a joke may get a laugh, or perhaps only a smile. A first view of a great work of art may make one smile, more likely not. But it will be shocking, often without the viewer knowing quite why. “So art may not be a joke,” Rivera said, “but it is always like one.” Read More:http://www.analysis.com/vs/vs85.html

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