Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine"
"Lady with an Ermine" (1489-1490) - one of the most important works of all Western art, the object of the greatest rarity of genius Leonardo da Vinci and one of the four famous female portraits of the master. Modern critics believe - white small animal in the picture appeared a reason.
Transformation of pictures
To date, a genuine remained only a small part of the picture, the rest was repeatedly retouched: the whole background was dark, the dress was changed, and the transparent veil worn by a woman, was repainted in conjunction with hair color. Another adjustment was the addition of an unknown restorer dark shadows between the fingers of her right hand (on closer examination the bottom two fingers noticeable that they are inferior to others). However, the most important discovery of the painting was the fact that the Italian artist painted the work is not one stage, and in three distinct phases. Its first version was a simple portrait without animal. In the second stage of the artist included a small gray ermine. In the third and final iteration of the little animal turned into a large white ermine. The transformation of ermine - from the small and dark in the muscular and white - can also point to the desire of the Duke Ludovico Sforza create a more flattering portrait of his beloved.
The identity of the heroine pictures
The heroine of the work - Cecilia Gallerani (1473-1536 approx.). Her age in the picture 16 years. Cecilia was born in Siena (Italy), where she received a solid education, knew Latin, wrote poetry and had a musical talent. This portrait of Leonardo, whom she described as "unparalleled", has created a new ideal of courtly female portrait. Imprinted half-turned, with a hint of a smile, Cecilia really seemed snatched from life. This position was already a standard for portraiture, as popularized by Dutch artist Jan van Ake and Hans Memling. Cecilia graceful hand stroking his ermine. Cecilia dressed in expensive fabrics, embroidered with gold thread, a necklace of rich black stones and a hat from a thin veil. Leonardo envelops her blue mantle, using lapis lazuli, a semiprecious stone for the manufacture of ultramarine blue pigment. Clothing and hair heroine written in typical Spanish fashion of the XV century.
Ermine plays a key symbolic role in the decoration, so the break is very important not only from a technical point of view but also in terms of interpretation. If you look at the close-up portrait, you will see that Cecilia and Ermine are both facing the same direction. Critics found that ermine symbolizes lover model Ludovico Sforza (in 1488, just 2 years before the portrait was painted, he was awarded with the Order of the King of Naples ermine). Sometimes he called himself ermellino bianco (white ermine). In addition, ermine hides pregnancy model (she soon gave birth to a son, Cesare, and weasels since ancient times associated with obstetrics and protection of pregnant women). And yet, in this picture there is something more than just an image of a young charming woman with an animal. Leonardo, being comprehensively talented person, could not do without the symbolic allegories. Yet this should be something more than a beautiful young woman and a kind of risky animal. Leonardo, being subtle and intelligent man as he was, would not be satisfied with the lack of symbolic associations.
Ermine was expensive and precious materials that could afford the first person in the state. In addition, artists sometimes depicted the Virgin Mary in a cloak lined with ermine. Therefore, it was regarded as a symbol of purity and chastity, even, that allows to evaluate the idea with an Ermine like the idea of purity of the youngest girls. Authenticity of this version shows a possible allusion to the name of the artist Cecilia Gallerani (galle in Greek means "weasel").
The composition and technique
The artist uses a long curved lines without the use of straight lines. The picture is almost entirely composed of bends. Exception - a band on his head and a square neckline on her dress. Lines form a triangular pattern composition. The focused light is reflected on the main characters of the film on the right side and thus soften their forms. The artist painted his pictures, using geometry and mathematical principles discovered by the ancient Greeks. Smoothly curved body shape and ermine turning heroine were something completely new way of writing portraits, which gave the rhythm of the composition. This moving portrait composition resembles a snake from the Baroque (when moving figures marked by strong, sometimes even unnatural rotation of the body). Leonardo wrote pieces at an angle. Line direct the viewer's eye and create the illusion that Cecilia can turn around and make eye contact at any time. This "trick" (a popular Mannerist) painting gives lightness and dynamism.
"Lady with an Ermine" - one of four portraits of Leonardo and the first painting of the Renaissance, in which the woman embodies the personality and mind, not just beauty. This is a charming image of refined elegance, revealing a peerless creative mind of Leonardo da Vinci.