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"Mona Lisa"By Leonardo Da Vinci And "Woman with a Flower"By Pablo Picasso: What Do They Have in Common

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For this paper I am comparing “Mona Lisa” done by Leonardo da Vinci from 1503-1507 and “Woman with a Flower” done by Pablo Picasso in 1932. In terms of line, both works are similar in that they both use curved lines to show the shapes of the subject. The lines used in “Woman with a Flower” are generally thicker and less “realistic” than the lines in “Mona Lisa.” Both works have organic shapes; however there are geometric shapes in “Woman with a Flower” as well. The shapes in that painting are less realistic than those in da Vinci’s. “Mona Lisa” and “Woman with a Flower” both have positive and negative space-the woman’s skin in “Mona Lisa” is negative space compared to her dark clothing, as the light colored shapes (the white circles and light purple, yellow, green, and orange shapes) also demonstrate negative space against the dark brown and black background. Picasso does little to show foreground, middle ground, and background-the only space there is developed by his shading and overlapping of the objects-otherwise they generally look two-dimensional. Da Vinci, on the other hand, thoroughly develops space because he sets the woman in the foreground, and then adds landscaping that extends behind her to demonstrate middle ground and background.

The only form portrayed in “Woman with a Flower” is the three-dimensional white spheres in the center and the purple object on the left. Da Vinci uses form in “Mona Lisa” where he paints the woman so that she looks three-dimensional and orchestrates the landscape behind her so that it, too, looks three-dimensional. Da Vinci uses overall more neutral, natural, and darker hues in “Mona Lisa” than Picasso does in “Woman with a Flower.” The intensity of the colors in “Woman with a Flower” is greater and the “Mona Lisa” has more dark values than “Woman with a Flower.” The texture of “Mona Lisa” seems realistic and natural, while the main texture in “Woman with a Flower” appears to be smooth. The variety in “Mona Lisa” was shown in the emphasis on the lightness of her skin against the darkness of the background. Picasso also used variety in the different colors of his painting; however he also used it in the strange shapes of his painting. Da Vinci uses movement in “Mona Lisa” by arranging his subject so that the viewer’s eyes travel from her facial expression down to her folded arms at the bottom. Picasso doesn’t add much movement in “Woman with a Flower,” the shapes and colors seemed to be scattered somewhat randomly throughout the piece.

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Da Vinci creates asymmetrical balance in “Mona Lisa” because he positions the background and the main subject so that there is an equal amount of weight on each side, left and right, of his painting. Picasso also creates asymmetrical balance in his painting; the weight of the objects is even on either side of it. Both paintings have a sense of unity; in “Mona Lisa” it is through the realism and the neutral shades of color used, while in “Woman with a Flower” it is through the oddly shaped objects and the bright colors he used. In “Woman with a Flower,” Picasso creates rhythm through his shapes. He repeats the purple shape twice throughout his work; one is slightly different than the other. He also repeats the white sphere shape twice in the center of his painting, and there is a similar object slightly to the right. In “Mona Lisa,” Da Vinci creates rhythm in the folds of the woman’s sleeves and in the overall colors and shapes of the painting. He also repeats tree shapes in the background of the piece. Da Vinci uses emphasis in his painting by making the lightest part of the painting the woman’s face. He crafts her expression so that the viewer feels compelled to concentrate on her and consider why she has that expression.

Picasso uses emphasis in his painting by making the face of the woman surrounded by brighter, more patterned objects than those around them. He draws the viewer’s eyes to her face in that way, and also through the very small eyes and mouth of her face, which are different than the rest of the piece. In “Mona Lisa,” Da Vinci patterns the wrinkles of the woman’s sleeves and the trees in the background of the painting. He also patterns the small curls of her hair towards the ends. In “Woman with a Flower,” Picasso patterns the sphere shapes and the colors yellow, purple, green, white. He also uses the color black for all of his lines.

The subject matter of both paintings is a woman. These pieces are very similar in subject matter, yet very different in many other ways. While both have the same subject matter, the emotion of the subjects are different. The woman in “Mona Lisa” seems very simple and mysterious, while looking happy and smug. The woman in “Woman with a Flower” looks as if Picasso wanted her to appear surprised and happy, inferred from the “O” shape of her mouth and the bright colors he used. I think the meaning of “Mona Lisa” was so that Da Vinci could show that mystery and beauty could be portrayed in even a simple, plain woman. I think the meaning of “Woman with a Flower” was for Picasso to show that beauty could be portrayed in a very abstract, “random” method known as surrealism. The woman he portrayed in the painting later became pregnant with his child, suggesting this painting demonstrated his feelings for her.


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