The Mona Lisa
The role of the artist in this case is to render a likeness of the individual who is to be in the portrait. During the Renaissance, the master artists such as Leonardo da Vinci were commissioned to paint the portraits of the wealthy citizens of Florence and the other major cities in Italy at the time. The artist’s function was simply to render and create the portrait of the customer or the subject. The art piece may have had several functions. The first is to “immortalize” the image of the subject so that his or her image could be remembered way after his or her death – in fact, the Mona Lisa is perhaps the most popular and iconic painting in the world today. Another purpose of the art piece would be to reflect the painting or art style of the artist – in this case, to reflect the style of Leonardo da Vinci himself. Perhaps da Vinci intended for the painting to be his “trademark” – that is, any viewer of the painting at the time would immediately know a Da Vinci when they saw one.
Da Vinci may have been very popular during this time as an artist, inventor, scientist and in the many other roles he took on. He may have had clients calling on him in his home, asking him to paint their portraits. Mona Lisa herself was obviously a woman of means. To be able to pay for such a commission meant that the family of Mona Lisa was wealthy. She is also depicted wearing quite an expensive gown or dress, although her body is devoid of any jewelry.
Artemision Statue and the Laocoon Statue
While both statues are in the classical Greek tradition of portraying anatomical details, there are still subtle differences between them. First is that the Artemision statue does not have too much facial expression, while the Laocoon Statue shows so much emotion. Perhaps the intention of the sculptor of the Artemision Statue is to portray either Zeus or Poseidon as godly and kingly, and so the expression on the face of the Artemision Statue is one of a person with a regal bearing and breeding. On the other hand, the priest Laocoon and his sons are shown in pain, suffering and torment, wanting to get away from the serpents coiling around them and biting them. The body position of the Artemision Statue is simple, while that of the Laocoon Statue is quite complicated. Laocoon almost looks like a contortionist. One can only speculate that the reason for portraying Zeus or Poseidon in the Artemision Statue is to demonstrate that particular god’s might, while the reason for the Laocoon Statue is to demonstrate the agony that one will undergo when one dares disobey the order of the gods. While both statues are beautiful depictions of human anatomy, Laocoon seems to be the more detailed in terms of pronounced depiction of anatomy – even the eyebrows of Laocoon are contorted as he strains to be free of the serpents.
“The Psyche” by Morisot and “Impression: Sunrise” by Monet
The hues that were used by their respective painters in both paintings are quite different. Morisot makes use of the warmer reds, pinks and fuchsias in “The Psyche” while Monet makes use of the cooler blues and greys in “Impression: Sunrise”. The only warm spot (but still quite dark-looking) is the sun in Monet’s painting. Monet’s brushstrokes are quite loose, and they are in many directions, perhaps made so that there is a three-dimensional sense to the painting of the view of the port. Monet also seems to be concentrating on the darker elements of the painting, by using darker hues so as to present his own impression of sunrise. On the other hand, Morisot’s strokes seem to be lighter and more whimsical, so as to present the impression of an innocent girl looking at her own image in the mirror. The concentration is also on the lighter elements, emphasizing the sunlight and the white dress of the girl in the picture.