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I have offended God and mankind because my work did not 
reach the quality it should have (Da Vinci's dying words)

Leonardo DA VINCI, (b. 1452, Vinci, It. - d. May 2, 1519, Cloux, Fr.), Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. His Last Supper (1495-97) and Mona Lisa (1503-06) are among the most widely popular and influential paintings of the Renaissance.  [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994]

Philexfrance 1999, Mona Lisa Gioconda

Portrait of Mona Lisa (1479-1528), also known as La Gioconda, exhibited by Musée du Louvre, Paris. The stamp on the left was issued in 1999 by France as a part of a souvenir sheet of three stamps, on the occasion of the Philexfrance 99 Stamp Exhibition. The stamps on the right was issued by the Irish post in 2000, as part of the sheet "The Arts. Celebrating the Millennium".

Ireland, 2000. Celebrating the Millenium.

    Mona Lisa was Leonardo da Vinci's favorite painting. Many theories have been advanced regarding the meaning of the enigmatic smile on the woman's face and the identity of the sitter.

Mona Lisa Gioconda, by Leonardo da Vinci

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

    This Leonardo's most famous work is as well known for its mastery of technical innovations as for the mysteriousness of its legendary smiling subject. This work is a consummate example of two techniques - sfumato and chiaroscuro - of which Leonardo was one of the first great masters. Sfumato is characterized by subtle, almost infinitesimal transitions between color areas, creating a delicately atmospheric haze or smoky effect; it is especially evident in the delicate gauzy robes worn by the sitter and in her enigmatic smile.

The first reproduction of the Mona Lisa painting appeared on a West Germany stamp (on the left), issued in 1952, and commemorating the 500th birth anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci. The stamps on the right was issued by the Bulgarian P.A. in 1980 as part of a souvenir sheet.

    Chiaroscuro is the technique of modeling and defining forms through contrasts of light and shadow; the sensitive hands of the sitter are portrayed with a luminous modulation of light and shade, while color contrast is used only sparingly.

    An especially notable characteristic of Leonardo's paintings is his landscape backgrounds, into which he was among the first to introduce atmospheric perspective. The chief masters of the High Renaissance in Florence, including Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, and Fra Bartolommeo, all learned from Leonardo; he completely transformed the school of Milan; and at Parma, Correggio's artistic development was given direction by Leonardo's work. (After Microsoft Encarta 1996)

    Link: Da Vinci and Vermeer

    Links to other Italian artists featured on this site:

     Davaar local issue stamp thanks to Rodney, Australia, RCSD newsgroup

Background: Leonardo da Vinci's cartoon "The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist".

Revised: 07/10/09.
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