Understanding Iconography

The role of the artist, which is the closest to me, is to give the form to the immaterial feelings and ideas, because people often feel so much in the souls, but words never suffice to convey it. This is why, I chose the two works of Leonardo da Vinci, as in my opinion, his paintings express this role to the fullest. Of course, we can also observe the traces of other roles. We can feel the new ways of perceiving world through his works, we see the visual record of his time and surroundings, the gracious and delicate presentation in Leonardo’s paintings express the beauty and profound meaning.

I have always been fascinated by the personality of the great Leonardo da Vinci. His creativity never knew limits. Leonardo’s paintings possess mysterious symbols which scientists still try to interpret. My choice fell on the most famous Mona Lisa (1503-1519, located at The Louvre Museum, Paris) and The Last Supper (1495-1498, located in the church Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan).

Mona Lisa’siconography compiles hundreds of articles, movies, books written to explain its meaning. Some see the face of Jesus Christ in the portrait, others – Leonardo da Vinci when he tried to portrait himself as a woman. According to the research analysis conducted by Lillian F. Schwarz, the facial features match perfectly, so it is highly probable that Leonardo tried to create such a hermaphrodite, maybe to emphasize the dual nature of all humans. Gioconda’s enigmatic smile shows us the unfathomable calmness, a great deal of confidence, and, surprisingly, some shade of contempt. An incredible work, which, probably, will never be entirely understood, or better when everyone seeks its own meaning in her eyes and smile.

The Last Supper is best explained (from the subjective point of view) in the best-selling book of Dan Brown “The Da Vinci Code”. The author is trying to show us all the mysteries the painting possesses: Who betrayed Jesus? Can it be true that Jesus had a wife? What if one of the apostles is a woman?! These and many other questions are hidden in this unique work of art. Judas’ hand reached out to Christ, while Peter is holding a knife as if to protect Jesus. The body of Christ forms a perfect triangle – a symbol of man’s and woman’s origin, according to some scientists, and – neoplatonistic attributes, which were once opposed to Christianity but later on became associated with it, according to others. Leonardo’s symbolism is overwhelming – it is everywhere, even in simple, for the first sight, things. His works entice people with the enigma hidden in them and, in my opinion, will always be the mysteries in the world of art, which are most difficult to guess.



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