Germaine Greer has a bitch and Mona about ‘sloppy’ Da Vinci
The outspoken feminist says the Renaissance master and his 'half-dead woman' are highly overrated
Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance great or sloppy painter who fluffed The Last Supper and gave the Mona Lisa the pallor of a corpse? The latter view is that of Germaine Greer.
The feminist critic and arch-contrarian used a talk marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death to argue that he is vastly overrated.
“I remember the first time I saw the Mona Lisa. I had come all the way from Australia. I go to the Louvre, get to the room, and see the most wonderful painting – which is the Raphael portrait of Baldassare Castiglione. He’s so warm, so immediate, it just rushes straight at you.
“But no one was looking at it. They were all staring at this half-dead woman.”
Speaking at the Hay Festival, Greer said of the Mona Lisa: “The most important thing to me about this b***** picture is this woman looks as if she’s already dead. As for the famous smile, this is what I call ‘the Leonardo smirk’.”Of The Last Supper, a popular subject of Renaissance art, Greer said: “People have gone mad. They are starstruck by this man and I can see what’s fascinating about him, but I can’t forgive him for being sloppy with this sort of work.“I won’t forgive him for The Last Supper. It’s on monastery walls all over Italy and it’s one of the worst. People are queuing up to see it. It makes me nuts.”
Place Leonardo’s work next to that of Michelangelo, Greer said, and “there’s a world between the two of them”.
A counter-view was offered by Greer’s fellow panellist, Hannah Critchlow, a neuroscientist. She said appreciating Leonardo was “a celebration of the depth of skills that one person can hold”.Greer caused controversy at 2018’s festival when she dismissed most rapes as “lazy” and “careless” and meriting only a few hours of community service as punishment.– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)