This weekend, my family and I are going to see a traveling exhibit that's come to the Land of Lily Pad Museum of Fine Art. Mom and I are the art enthusiasts in the family, but dad and little brother Quigley tag along and do their best to appreciate what they are seeing. To get ready for our outing, I looked up a few of the world's most famous works of art to see what I could learn from these artistic treasures.
The Sistine Chapel fresco in by Michelangelo. Located in Rome, Italy, this definitely one of the largest and most famous of all frescoes. Michelangelo worked on his masterpiece from May 1508 to October 1512. The chapel was inaugurated on the Feast of All Saints (1 November) 1512. Extensive restoration work was done between 1980 and 1994. layers of smoke from candles and previous restoration work revealed colors that were much brighter than previous thought. What pigments did the master use to create this stunning work? Ochre was used for the reds and yellows; iron silicates for the greens; lapis lazuli for the blues, and charcoal for the blacks. Not everything is painted in as much detail as it first appears. The figures in the foreground, for instance, are painted in much greater detail than those further back. This adds to the depth of the ceiling.
The Mona Lisa. Located in the Louvre, Paris, it is arguably the most famous of all painting in the world. It is possibly the best example of the sfumato painting technique. Sfumato comes from the Italian word "fumo" which means smoke. With this technique, all the colors and tones are carefully blended together in such a subtle manner that they appear seamless; without any edges or perceptible transitions. It is thought that this technique is partially responsible for her enigmatic smile. It is well-known that Leonardo began this painting in 1503 but when he finished it, is less certain. The Louvre dates the painting as 1503 to 1506 but recent discoveries (2012) suggest that the painting was finished as much as a decade later. This is based on the fact that Mona's background is similar to a drawing of rocks he was known to have completed in 1515. Since this discovery the Louvre now shows the date as 1503 to 1519. The crowds are huge if you want to see this painting "in the flesh" as I have. It is also much smaller than you would think, measuring only 30 inches x 20 inches (77 x 53 cm). If you do get to visit her, take some time and really look at her. You'll be surprised at the way the colors have been used. The background and beautiful drapery are well-worth a closer look. Most folks couldn't tell you anything more about her than her smile. But there really is a lot more to love about this painting.
The Starry Night by Vincent an Gogh. The most famous and beloved of all his works hangs in the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York City. Painted in 1889, the largest "star" to the right in the painting, is thought to be the planet Venus. In a letter to his brother, Theo, van Gogh refers to it as "the morning star which looked very big." Earlier letters described the night sky and stars as well as desire to paint them. It is a well-known fact that van Gogh only signed those paintings he was particularly satisfied with. And although million of humans (and frogs) are dazzled by his spectacular Starry Night painting Vincent himself must have been displeased, as it appears to be lacking his traditional single-name signature. Ever wonder why he only signed his first name? In another letter to his brother, Vincent says that because the locals (Arles in the south of France) can't properly pronounce his last name he will simply sign his works as Vincent. Speaking of his last name, do you know how to pronounce it correctly? The most common mispronunciation are "goff" and "go." The "Gogh" rhymes with the Scottish word "loch."
I am excited to visit the art museum with my family this weekend. It's always a treat to see, up close and personal, some of the frog world's most important works of art. Whatever your plans are for the weekend, I hope it will include viewing some art. if there's not a museum near you, art books abound and you can view nearly any work of art online. So take some time and study your favorite painting. Look at it with fresh eyes. See something new that you hadn't noticed before. I invite you all back here on Monday. Until then,
I wish you peace, joy, and beauty.