The Portrait of Ginevra De Benci

Size: Height X Length
Inches: 81 X 60
Cms: 206 X 152

Meduim: Oil Enamel on Canvas

Circa: 1982 – 1987

The Portrait of Ginevra de Benci
Expression for Relativity
A very special woman in the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Lovely and very intelligent, Ginevra was not happy about her betrothal. The portrait which was part of her dowry shows a woman disenchanted with the prospect of the upcoming nuptials. The direct gaze asks questions, which the artist answers by not embellishing the portrait with false beauty or sentiments. He gives back the truth by painting her as he sees her, disenchantment verging on detachment from worldly things.

The Portrait of Ginevra De Benci
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The Portrait of Ginevra De Benci.
The Last Woman.
Expression for Relativity.

It was neither day nor night. In the misty twilight, just outside the Villa but inside the Garden, there I sat her to paint. I saw the flicker of light on her curls, her countenance, I liked her, nay loved her, the world reflected in her grim face. With love and extreme dexterity, I worked on her portrait. The golden embroidered ribbon took more time to capture. Many times, many many times, the face I erased to get the right nuance, the correct amount of light, to get the three-dimensionality, which though good bet could never satisfy me, till much later in some other painting altogether. The Landscape at the back of her, I liked. I had succeeded to capture two Natures, outer & the inner, and integrating the two in a union. The melancholy paleness in her face and the trees behind- nothing was accidental and yet the Heart also moved with it too-in abundance. This was one of those lines when the detachment deserted me –though not fully. That flicker of latent detachment lured me to the Divine-and after her all other women were expressions, for Relativity.

You, You are the one, I have been looking for you
Let’s Unite The best of You & Me
To create an Eternal Dew Drop.
And the first stage of light is emancipation.

-Bharat Dalal

Description of the painting :

The portrait “Ginevra De Benci” by Bharat Dalal is one of his psychological portraits painted with the frontal view of the sitter. Bharat Dalal had very sensibly captured the beautiful and melancholic face of Ginevra with little cascades of curly glossy hair. The first thing that strikes the viewer about Bharat Dalal’s interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s portrait of Ginevra De Benci is the darker tones indicating a late hour of the day alluding to lost time. Her eyes are open, eyelids are heavy looking towards a mile of long-distance full of abstraction and uncertainty, and her melancholy face is representing her broken and sad heart. The artist intentionally did not reproduce brighter blue skies, and instead painted a grayscale background that was at the cusp of shapes and two-dimensional forms in fading light. This portrait of Ginevra had shown the unhappiness due to her marriage and the artist had captured the marble-like skin and curly hair with a sulky and proud facial expression that defined the theory of relativity as no other woman was at par with Ginevra.

Ginevra da Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci :

The original was painted in Florence between 1474–1478 when Leonardo was in his early twenties without much travel or experience in art. It was, however, a forebearer of the changes to come. A transformation that changed the course of history, like a river-changing course after a natural earth-shaking event, when fine arts broke away from the spiritual straitjacket it adorned on strict rules set by the papal authority. Leonardo loved the misty dusk light that he depicted through the vacant trance-like the quality of pale and melancholy face and the figure echoed by the distant landscape of dreamlike situations that seemed to go deeper than merely showing the physical illness of Ginevra. This portrait was purchased by the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C in 1967 and the only painting of Leonardo da Vinci in an American gallery.

Landscape (The Background of the Painting) :

A grainy background that shows coarseness implying a lack of clarity, the dimming light points to the oncoming blackness of the night. It makes the subject a larger character dominating the portrait along with her ginger hair. The juniper tree to her back looks more overbearing and blocks the light, adding to the subject’s subdued appearance. The artist deemphasizes the greens of the trees bereft of the golden hues of the sun with scarlet hues of the nightfall. The horizontal lines denote cloudiness pairing with the subject’s sedate expression. The beginning of darkness is shown to depict the erosion of moral values. Ginevra De Benci was a popular sprightly young girl, all of sixteen, betrothed to Luigi di Bernardo Niccolini, who now sits forlorn.

The Technique & Colour :

The texture realized through marbling gives the portrait dimensional randomness, while the figures and outlines within offer expression to the shape, bringing intrigue and connection with the viewer. The painting maintains symmetry with horizontal lines across the canvas. The marbleized technique used in the painting offers a chronological continuity and captures the essence of Abstract Expressionism and also allows the viewers to deeply analyze the fossilized emotions.

Bharat Dalal had expressed the artistic sensibilities of Renaissance art by using the primary colors (Red, Blue, and Yellow). It indicates the complexity of the Emotions, the Desires, the Passions, and the logical inferences for cohesive cognition to address the enigma and the pain of Ginevra De Benci. He had used the primary and secondary colors and a mix of them to represent the continuation of his other paintings. The basic colors were used for representing the principal characteristics of the Spiritual Matter (The Soul), that of knowledge, perception, and intuition. The green and mauve colors used in this painting were indicating the effective response of Ginevra in a sense of metamorphosis and impermanence while the use of basic colors was creating visions so persistently haunting that its full comprehension completely transformed the way she perceived implausibility and negativity that lay within her soul. According to him “this painting begins with emotions, the mystery of duality, and ends in the divine. It shows emotionality transformed into an expression for artistic and philosophical maxims — a base for the expression of “Relativity”.
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The elusive fourth dimension

Great art has succeeded in creating a third dimension within the canvas. A pronounced new dimension which this painting attains is explained below. The horizontal marbleized veins on the canvas surface act as the reference plane and are in fact the chief catalyst in creating the virtual third dimension within the surface. The front protrusion of the face from the canvas’s reference plane gives rise to the virtual fourth dimension. This is demonstrated in the illustration to the left.

Perceptions to Pure Perceptions & the Evolution of Geometrical perspectives – II (two)

The Linear Horizontal

The second fundamental perception is distilled into the second painting to bring forth this geometrical perspective of the linear horizontal. The horizontal marbleized veins on the juniper tree, water, sky, clothes & face all go on to emphasize the linear horizontal predominance of this painting. The sustained passion and motivation, and a thirst for relative knowledge and its expression, and a relentless search for the law of nature, outer and inner, are clearly outlined here. This, along with the two preceding and succeeding linear analyses, is a prelude to the first original creator perception and also the prerequisite for the single-point perspective.

Artist Perspective : Ginevra for Bharat empowered him to project and express a Relative state, where the supremacy of the spiritual took precedence over the Empirical. The superimposition of the shadows accentuated and enhanced the point of the union of the spiritual and the empirical. Bharat says the seed and the purpose of this “Relativity” were realized in “The Cavern,” his first painting. This second painting then is an integration of experience of the outer and inner nature, wherein all mundane emotions and actions would invariably transmute into the Divine. Bharat notes: “In the same vein, Ginevra was the last woman (in the mundane sense) and after her, all other women were expressions for “relativity”. Bharat Dalal still stays true to the original renaissance master’s vision of showing the feminine form upright and gazing directly at the viewer to herald oncoming changes that may have been long due. The melancholic expression was pointing to seriousness and calm before a storm, the discontent that the renaissance would foster, to decouple from the power of the clergy in a nation where the first estate had long held a privileged position. On one hand, it expresses the solidity of the form; on the other hand, it defines Spirituality. The integration of outer and inner nature, emotions and experiences, the actions, and the search for divinity brings the metamorphism in the last woman (Ginevra) and empowered the artist to project and express the Relative state where the supremacy of almighty takes precedence over the ethereal and mundane nature. This metamorphism is transcended through the emergence of devotion and patience that leads to the attainment of knowledge and perception to the right conclusion.
Writers Perspective (Conclusion) : The original painting by Leonardo da Vinci, purchased by a gallery in America for a then-record price, is testimony to the painting’s role in the revolutionary ideas that it highlighted. The artist, Bharat Dalal, gives a tribute to the “renaissance man” and contextualizes it in modern times, depicting a bolder undercurrent of rage and time running out. Bharat Dalal brings to you, the viewer, Leonardo Da Vinci’s polymath mind in today’s context, with paints and textures, updated to represent the artist’s sense of metamorphosis and impermanence. He blurs the background just enough to not lose it, but enough for the viewer to focus on Ginevra. The artist wants viewers to focus on the subject, her stony face, without being distracted by the juniper trees, which the original painting intricately detailed. The artist is saying, don’t spend time looking around to see the trees and landscape but focus on the nubile Ginevra and the turmoil in her eyes, her plight.
Connecting with a special common thread like the trinity of the past, the present, and the future; the trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; like the triumvirate of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva gives it another sense of eternity that still brings relevance in this millennium, many hundred years on. The establishment of the relationship between the Transient Nature and the Permanent Nature is the extreme case of artistic expression and it shows the knowledge, perception, and experience of the universe and the non-universe in its entirety to define the Relativity.

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