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Old 07-11-2017, 08:25 PM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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How many hours to paint the Mona Lisa?

Well really, the Mona Lisa is very small. Still, how long does it take to paint a fair-sized portrait?
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:29 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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A long, long time.

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Historians agree that Leonardo commenced the painting of Mona Lisa in 1503, working on it for approximately four years...

Various other suggestions have also been made as to the reason behind the smile ... The long months of sitting for the portrait could well have triggered an attack of teeth grinding. Leonardo did attempt to keep his subject relaxed and entertained with the use of music; he had six musicians to play for her plus and installed a musical fountain invented by himself. Different, beautiful works were read out loud and a white Persian cat and a greyhound bitch were there for playing with.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:34 PM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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Thank you. May I rephrase the question? How long must a subject sit? (At least in the pre-photograph epoch.) How long does the artist work in hours? How many hours a day?
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:34 PM
Palooka Palooka is offline
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And is that a normal amount of time for a painting like that? That feels like a really long time to me.
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:42 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Non-determinant question. It is entirely dependent on the painter, the subject, the pay scale, and the phase of the moon. Hans Holbein the Younger could crank out a portrait in a week or so, with just a couple of sittings. All you really needed the subject for was the facial details. the rest of the painting could be roughed off of stand-ins. Leonardo took forever on this one because he didn't get paid for it and he kept getting sidetracked.

Last edited by silenus; 07-11-2017 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:31 AM
APB APB is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Non-determinant question. It is entirely dependent on the painter, the subject, the pay scale, and the phase of the moon. Hans Holbein the Younger could crank out a portrait in a week or so, with just a couple of sittings. All you really needed the subject for was the facial details. the rest of the painting could be roughed off of stand-ins. Leonardo took forever on this one because he didn't get paid for it and he kept getting sidetracked.
Holbein is an excellent example, because it is known that he had just a single sitting of three hours with Christina of Denmark. And, of course, many of his drawings of his sitters survive. In most cases, he probably wasn't doing any actual painting with the sitter in front of him.

Like everything else about the Mona Lisa, its dating is complicated and arguably has become more so in recent years. One argument, based on a probable reference to it from 1517, assumes that it was painted for Giuliano de' Medici, which would imply that it was painted in Rome after 1513. Yet there is now good evidence that it was in existence by 1503. But the real complication is the controversial scientific claims by Pascal Cotte. He claims that the painting underwent several radical changes and that this shows that the painting from 1503 was repainted after 1517. Most recently of all, Martin Kemp, in his new book on the subject, has rejected Cotte's more implausible claims, but he is prepared to entertain the idea that it was reworked, possibly to make it less a portrait of Lisa Gherardini and more an image of an ideal beauty. Which would make the question as to how long it took to paint even more difficult to answer.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:36 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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The question is a little like asking how long it takes to make an album. The Beatles did their first album in a day. By the end, they took months to make an album.

Sitting for an oil portrait was generally a long, tedious affair. That's why Leonardo had to use so many tricks to keep his model compliant. And one of the reasons Mona Lisa's smile is so compelling. Almost no portraits ever depicted smiles. No human could hold a smile for that long. The few examples of smiles look stilted and unflattering, the opposite of Leonardo's effect.

Subjects always complained about the length of time sitting took. IIRC, Washington railed against Gilbert Stuart for the need to neglect his work while posing. But he kept sitting. It was a necessary evil.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:17 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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With oil paintings, you usually have to wait for one layer of paint to dry before you can apply the next, and it can take days, weeks, or months for a layer to dry enough to paint the next layer. (da Vinchi did not pull a Bob Ross.) Then it may take up to a year for the almost-finished painting to dry before it can be finished by varnishing. da Vinchi used a special technique involving applying dozens of very thin layers of glaze over the top of the Mona Lisa, waiting for each layer to dry in between. So, years from start to finish.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:30 AM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
With oil paintings, you usually have to wait for one layer of paint to dry before you can apply the next, and it can take days, weeks, or months for a layer to dry enough to paint the next layer. (da Vinchi did not pull a Bob Ross.) Then it may take up to a year for the almost-finished painting to dry before it can be finished by varnishing. da Vinchi used a special technique involving applying dozens of very thin layers of glaze over the top of the Mona Lisa, waiting for each layer to dry in between. So, years from start to finish.
For that matter, was DaVinci mixing his own paints? Did he have to wait weeks or months for a special pigment to become available? Did he have to wait for a caravan from Arabia to bring in camel hair he needed to make his brushes? IANA art expert, but something tells me Leo didn't use very much off-the-shelf stuff.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:52 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
For that matter, was DaVinci mixing his own paints? Did he have to wait weeks or months for a special pigment to become available? Did he have to wait for a caravan from Arabia to bring in camel hair he needed to make his brushes? IANA art expert, but something tells me Leo didn't use very much off-the-shelf stuff.
I doubt that there was any "off the shelf" stuff back then, and every artist probably had their own particular formula. (Sometimes expensive, too, like powdered lapis-lazuli.)

And that reminds me of the movie Girl With Pearl Earring, where Pearl Girl (Scarlett Johansson, back when she got roles playing ordinary humans) gets a job as an assistant paint maker to Vermeer.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:55 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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One coat or two?
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:39 PM
Rama Rama is offline
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Good to read that at least some effort went into making the world's most overrated piece of art ever.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:42 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Originally Posted by Rama View Post
Good to read that at least some effort went into making the world's most overrated piece of art ever.

???

Nobody mentioned Jackson Pollock.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:51 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Leonardo was notorious for that - he had to be nagged several years to finish the Last Supper. Even then, he painted it on plaster over a concrete wall that caused moisture to attack it from behind. Before the restoration a few decades ago it was almost unrecognizable, I've heard. The picture was so badly faded that the monks put in a door and cut off Jesus' feet because they did not realize the painting extended that far down.

(When I saw it in 2001 - they limited the number of guests at a time, and you entered through the side doubled door airlock so humidity could be strictly controlled. Then you went out the open corridor where the gift shop was, and the staff there had opened their window wide open to get some air.)

Yes, in Girl With A Pearl Earring, IIRC there was some discussion about horse urine(?) used as a particular yellow colouring agent in Vermeer's painting. However, I suspect most real artists could buy most of the mundane things like brushes from merchants; it would be the more specific things like fancy pigments that were expensive, and they would most likely mix all their own paints (or supervise apprentices doing so).
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:54 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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I've seen artists at the County Fair that will do a charcoal drawing of a subject in less than 20 mins.

They didn't charge much either.

I have a drawing of my wife. It was done years ago on a date at the fair.

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-12-2017 at 04:56 PM.
  #16  
Old 07-12-2017, 07:55 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I've seen artists at the County Fair that will do a charcoal drawing of a subject in less than 20 mins.

They didn't charge much either.

I have a drawing of my wife. It was done years ago on a date at the fair.
And they'll paint your kid's face in a minute!
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Old 08-24-2017, 06:22 PM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post

And that reminds me of the movie Girl With Pearl Earring, where Pearl Girl (Scarlett Johansson, back when she got roles playing ordinary humans) gets a job as an assistant paint maker to Vermeer.
Ah Scarlett Johansson. I'd always wondered how they could make a credible movie where the master of the house endangered his home and relationships by being attracted to the hired help, but Scarlett Johansson explains it. (I never watched the movie).
  #18  
Old 08-25-2017, 08:03 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Qatar View Post
Well really, the Mona Lisa is very small. Still, how long does it take to paint a fair-sized portrait?
There was a fascinating travelling exhibit on da Vinci at our Museum of Science a few months ago. A huge part was devoted to the Mona Lisa and a (relatively) recent series of researches on it. It turns out that the painting was done and reworked a total of four times, and we can see at least parts of each version. So it's not as if the Mona Lisa is a single small painting -- it's four paintings by the same artist, and each probably had a lot of work and rework going into it.
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Old 08-25-2017, 09:41 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Ah Scarlett Johansson. I'd always wondered how they could make a credible movie where the master of the house endangered his home and relationships by being attracted to the hired help, but Scarlett Johansson explains it. (I never watched the movie).
Then you want to watch "Match Point". A modern setting, but once again Scarlett is the temptation and I have to warn you it is very interestingly unpredictable. Not exactly a romantic comedy.
  #20  
Old 08-25-2017, 11:26 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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80 milliseconds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmW6SD-EHVY
  #21  
Old 08-25-2017, 12:06 PM
Drunky Smurf Drunky Smurf is offline
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That's even better than the original.
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Old 08-25-2017, 12:14 PM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
The question is a little like asking how long it takes to make an album. The Beatles did their first album in a day. By the end, they took months to make an album.

Sitting for an oil portrait was generally a long, tedious affair. That's why Leonardo had to use so many tricks to keep his model compliant. And one of the reasons Mona Lisa's smile is so compelling. Almost no portraits ever depicted smiles. No human could hold a smile for that long. The few examples of smiles look stilted and unflattering, the opposite of Leonardo's effect.

Subjects always complained about the length of time sitting took. IIRC, Washington railed against Gilbert Stuart for the need to neglect his work while posing. But he kept sitting. It was a necessary evil.
They should've hired Denny Dent. You could smile that long assuming you could sit still depending on the music.

Note: He is obviously not drawing from life though.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 08-25-2017 at 12:15 PM.
  #23  
Old 08-25-2017, 12:41 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Let's move this to Café Society.

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