The final essay on my students' second midterm asked them to identify and then write about the images you see above, Manet's Dejeuner sur l'herbe and Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
WARNING: Generally, one should avoid reading student essays before trying to do any serious writing of one's own.
The native speaker who is not on track to pass the course:
"In both paintings we are both looking at the woman as being the major focus. They both just stare at you in a gaze which women of the time period really seldom did. Image on the left didn't get to appear in all studios due the fact the woman didn't car she was "naked" not "nude" the forest was not what was being captured backgrounds in both of these image really was to impotant. The mono Lisa on right thugh fully clothes still captured the viewers gaze. The lighting the image on left shows the shadowing of the womans body. Overall you get a feel that women in image on left doesn't have high authority but is just a woman from the streets with the artist trys to depict since he was from (?) streets personally. The Mono Lisa seems to be a women with restrant dignity fully clothed with the gaze that seems to follow you everywhere."
Another native speaker, whose essay is more representative, and includes more information, but is rather oddly phrased:
"The comparison I want to make between these two images is the subject of women. Mona Lisa has always been a famous portrait of a female, and Manet's subject of the naked female and fully dressed scholars have both been seen as controversial paintings. Mane's picnic scenery caused great uproar of women being no more than objects or showcase by them being nude and appearing to be no more than animals. The subject matter for this piece was not exactly what Manet was shooting for, because he was focusing on technique, which this piece is part of the beginning to Impressionism, but besides that his artwork reflected a negative context on women. On the flipside, Mona Lisa appeared long before Manet's painting and similar to Manet, Leonardo was putting focus on painting techniques as well of the use of sfumato (the hazy appearance), but the subject matter of the woman is a complete different connection. Mona Lisa does not appear with jewels or extensive elaborate anything. She shows no other than an average woman. The positive aspect of this piece of the woman, because she is able to gaze at her viewer and this was something very new and real for the time. The similarities between these pieces is the use of landscape as distance, creating a lighter background to bring the viewer backwards. Also the color choices are both part of a muted pallette. There are no bright reds or ranges. Finally, I want to note the difference of the Mona Lisa being very sculptural and Manet's piece has the essence of flatness like the canvas. This was part of his style creating a flatten image with dimension."
The non-native speaker that I kind of just want to hug for this gem:
"These two paintings have some similarities and also there are some differences between "Mona Liza" and "Lancheon on the grass". These two paintings were made at different time, i.e. different Art period and characteristics of that time influence the composition of the painting. First, you notice the nude model on the paintig on the left where Mona Liza has her dress on, almost all body is covered under it. The model from painting on the left look straight to us as Mona Liza does. However, they look differently on viewer, especially that model on the left. She is nude, and it does not seem like she is worried about, she is in compony of to mans but it also does not worry her. Her body is so realistic, and she is like wants to show as that this is not unmoral. She shows that she is beautiful and she does not want to hide it under any dresses, she wants to show her true beauty. L. Da Vinci shows the beauti of Mona Liza by not using any jewerly on her or any bright and fancy dresses. He shows her true beauty by elimenating all these details. He use Light and dazziness on his painting to show mona Liza's mystic view. Background of these two paintings are very different. "Lancheon on the grass" has very peacefull in very warm colors painted background where L. Da Vinci uses very mystic and unrealistic in cold colors back ground. There are more Realistis view of "Lancheon on the grass" than the wiew of "Mona Liza." It is like Leonardo Da Vinci wants to show mystic character of his woman where Monet opens his woman to the viewer and says "Look at her she is so beautiful why does she need to hide it under the dress"