Please describe in one sentence the painting Ginevra de Benci by Leonardo DaVinci and use these elements (please remember use one sentence): line, color, texture, form, and space.

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Including all the elements of art in one sentence is tough, especially when observing Da Vinci's Ginevra de Benci.  I will give you one sentence, but then explain it in depth afterwards.  Here is my best attempt:

Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Renaissance painting Ginevra de Benci encompasses all of the elements of art, each a masterpiece in itself:  line (with a huge amount of variance involved with some straight, such as in the juniper tree, and some curvy, such as in the hair of Ginevra, and all extremely thin), color (in contrast to the blue of the sky that seems to recede, the main focus of the portrait done in warm primary colors tends to "pop out" at you), texture (varied by using very small brushes to achieve the lines in the hair while a smoothing fingertip technique produced the flawless skin of Ginevra), form (intrinsically biomorphic with all elements of the painting from life with absolutely nothing geometric of machines or buildings), and space (the background being a natural scene, the middle ground being a juniper, and the foreground being the portrait itself), the result being a masterpiece of art produced by none other than the famous Da Vinci. 

Now for further explanation for you:

  • Line:  This portrait is a masterpiece in line!  There are such varied lines here!  Some are straight such as the leaves of the juniper tree and some are curvy such as the detailed hair of Ginevra.  All of the lines are thin, produced by a very small brush.  However, some of the most important parts of the painting (such as the skin of Ginevra) have no lines at all!  This leads us immediately into texture ...
  • Texture:  This portrait is also a masterpiece in texture!  We don't even need to analyze the background and middle ground to determine this—just look at the portrait itself.  While there are such details in the hair and eyes using amazing thin lines (as described above), a directly opposite technique is used to achieve the flawless skin of Ginevra.  Supposedly, Da Vinci used his fingers to achieve this texture and contrast it with the opposite perfection of Ginevra's hair.
  • Color:  There is a beautiful contrast in primary colors that causes the cool blues of the sky to "recede" and the warm reds of the portrait to "pop out" at you.  This allows the focus to continue to be Ginevra instead of the natural background.  This leads us directly into the form of the painting...
  • Form:  Form is no exception to Da Vinci's great masterpiece here.  The forms are fully biomorphic.  They are all natural with absolutely nothing geometric.  (There are no machines or buildings or man-made items in the entire piece.)  Everything is a shape found in nature.  The only semi-exception is Ginevra's very severe style of hair and clothing.  The word "biomorphic" means "life form" or "life change."  The rounded and irregular shapes blend perfectly with that biomorphic idea.
  • Space:  Finally, Da Vinci also achieved a masterpiece of space with his foreground, middle ground, and background.  The background has its own detail with sky, a lake, trees, and other natural forms.  Due to their color, these recede nicely so we can concentrate on the middle and foreground.  The middle ground, which Da Vinci certainly wanted us to notice, is a juniper tree (a symbol of grief at the time).  The foreground, of course, is the portrait of Ginevra herself.  She is Da Vinci's focus and with the use of all the elements above, Da Vinci achieved success in this regard.