Become a Fan
A Note From La Gioconda
By Victor K. Pryles
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Not rated by the Author.
The wife of Fransceso del Giocondo muses as she is wont to do, being the muse to us all.
My Leonardo has captured me so far away from my husband in his little painting. Francesco will surely be jealous again. His outrageous possessiveness is so legendary and has made 1504 one of my most trying years. Heís horn-mad, the man.
It hasnít helped that Leonardo so loves this portrait of me that he carries it everywhere he goes. My husband has begged him to release it to his custody, but Leo is adamant. He rages about his new sfumato technique and lets all of his students copy the image to their hearts content. Each one more enthralled by it than the next.
Where has he placed me in the much mimicked? Amidst some mysterious mountains, a dream of landscape where, I assure you, no semblance could be found in his cluttered studio. It exists only from his patient hand and mind. But then again, my immortality through that hand, through that prescient intelligence, transports me of a few things; my husband raving at Leonardo for capturing the essential feminine, for one, through time and space to view you modern ones, for another.
You know, or you believe you know, all about this picture. Youíve thrown it on postcards, and into advertisements. So iconic have you made my figure that you forget Iím a flesh and blood woman, portrayed by a flesh and blood man. Yet, you know each time you look at me, I change a little. The manís mastery so complete in portraiture that you can never decide if my smile is one of mockery, or sadness, or, with more certainty, perhaps the great enigmatic of your own soul starting back at you.
But Leonardo can do that sort of thing. He knows so well how we use our eyes, better than anyone that ever lived before him. You know the works of Van Eyck and Mantegna, no doubt. These Italian Quattrocento masters leave their subjects wooden, hard and harsh; more statues than human beings.
You can see me breathing.
My painter doesnít use long flowing hair to bring it to life, like those did. Their stock-still figures with a spell cast on them, dry and stiff, have been revolutionized through L da Vinci. His spell is not on me,-- but you. I do not stand stock rigid, but moving, forever moving, and he has made my mouths corners and my eyes simple line a mystery.
How I enjoy the whole thing!
Then, playful and strong in his capture, he placed that background, which is the only thing that puzzles me. Itís all very daring, you know. Only a master of Leonardoís ilk could pull it off. Iíve stared and stared, as you still do, and looking carefully at his fantastic dream scape behind, see that the horizon on the left side is lower than the right, which makes me look on the left side and I consequently appear taller and more erect, then if I focus on the right side, it all changes again. How odd.
But Leonardo is full of such trickery.
Francesco says it would all be just jugglery and tricks and such, but that Leonardo knew when to stop. Itís all counterbalanced by my hands, he says, and the sleeves with their minute folds. The skin tones too remarkable, he pontificates, and all these marvels together settle your mind on more than just a good time.
I donít understand a single word of what he is saying.
All I know is that my grandmother and her mother before her, in fact all of everyone, used to look on portraits with awe. They believed that preserving the likeness, preserved the soul as well. But this was never so. Not until Leonardo and I, together, proved it true .
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|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Good story, very well done! :)|
|Reviewed by Missy Cross
|Lovely and comtemplative - a piece always in movement, just like its subject, that could have only been achieved by a master, whose spell is not on the subject, but on his readers. Great work!|