Loving Leonardo

Mona Lisa Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 3.41.31 PM.jpg

A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of giving my first workshop in quite a few years at the Falmouth Art Center.  We covered a lot of ground, but I was particularly gratified by the reception of my fantasy of how the commissioned portrait of the wife of a Florentine silk merchant ended up in France.

My fantasy is that Leonardo, having received the commission to paint Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, did the portrait, but then embellished its background with a reminiscence of his childhood landscape of Vinci, complete with mountains, a winding path and a bridge across a stream.

I further fantasize that Leonardo brought the nearly completed work to the del Giocondo household for approval, and while there a most unfortunate confrontation with the commissioner ensued.  Messer del Giocondo was pleased with the likeness and beauty of his wife in the painting, but took exception to the busy patterns in the background and asked Leonardo to remove the bridge.

Leonardo, who as the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary and a woman from Vinci had spent the first ten years of his life with his mother in that countryside and loved it and its memory, took violent exception to the request and left in a huff.

The del Giocondo family never saw that painting again.

Leonardo was later employed by the French king until the end of his life and the painting was found in his possessions, or those of his assistant, after his death.

The point of my fantasy is simply this, that the subliminal appeal of that painting is that Leonardo is sharing his heart and soul and childhood with us.  He was so invested in it that the quibbling of his customer ended their relationship, but gave us all a chance to share with him.

Whatever Leonardo did or did not intend, this is what I am trying to do with my work, and I continue to appreciate the chance to share it with you.

Posted on February 21, 2019 .