La Belle Ferronnière and the Mona Lisa

If we compare La Belle Ferronnière (c. 1495–1499) with the Mona Lisa (c. 1503–1519), we can see the artist’s evolution in terms of both composition and technique:

  • in La Belle Ferronnière, we have the impression that the figure has just turned toward us before directing her gaze toward someone further to her left,
  • but in the Mona Lisa, the figure has turned to look directly at the viewer, heightening the sense of proximity. 
  • The x-ray of La Belle Ferronnière clearly shows how the painter worked the flesh tones,
  • but the x-ray of the Mona Lisa shows only a “ghostly” image of the model, due to the thinness of the paint layer. 
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