First off, I want to preface this post by saying that it is truly impossible to determine what “better” means when comparing two masterpieces such as the portraits titled here. As I’ve written to nauseam already, art is completely subjective, especially art on this master level. There is absolutely no way to compare who’s portrait is better. That being said LETS FIGHT!
What portrait do you think is better, “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo DiVinci or “Girl With the Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer? I love this debate because both paintings, I believe, are the height of excellence when it comes to portraiture. Both are painted with the epitome of technical mastery, and display the perfect amount of mystique which I would argue is probably the most important thing when it comes to portraits. I’ll continue this post by writing a bit for each then giving my opinion on whose painting is more beautiful, or maybe not, I honestly haven’t come to a conclusion yet!
There is no question the Mona Lisa is the most iconic painting in art history. People from all corners of the earth flock to Paris to gaze upon her beauty; the lady with the mystic smile that has so captivated the hearts and minds of men for more than 5 centuries. Painted by DiVinci is 1503 there is no record or definitive answer as to who this woman is, many have speculated, but her identity remains a mystery. It’s for this reason why I think people are so drawn to this painting, The Mona Lisa looks upon the viewer in a dignifying pose almost tempting us to try and figure her out, something which she knows is impossible. She herself is a secret, and it’s not for us to know. I, like all of us, have seen images of this painting a million times like so many iconic pieces of art history, but it is the Mona Lisa that I always look at a little longer every time. Always feeling so close, yet so far, to unlocking the secret she conceals.
Is she turning towards you, or away from you? She may have something to say and she may have decided that it just wasn’t worth it. These are the thoughts that run through our heads as we look at at this painting and indeed often run ramped within so many of our individual relationships in our lives. The curse of ambiguity, of not knowing. A love either beginning or just ended. If only I could ask her. The dark void in which she inhabits takes us to the dark corners of our own minds where these maddening questions haunt every hour of every day. If only I can just ask her, “Pardon me, Ma’am. was there something you wanted to tell me? Please tell me.”
OOF! That one got real emotional outta nowhere, ain’t it? I began this post with the intention of pitting these two iconic portraits against one another then ultimately declaring a victor, but as you have just read I was literally side tracked by their beauty and got carried away. This is what a portrait should do, stop you dead in your tracks and draw you for mindful contemplation. Who are these women, and what are they trying to tell me? Both the Mona Lisa and The Girl with the Pearl Earring are equally as beautiful ,and may their majesty continue to plague the minds of men forever.