Editing a paper

Follow the email I attached. I used this service to write the paper originally and my professor wrote back with some notes, just follow these notes she left. Hi Wyatt,

So, first off, you listed a painting title that is different than the one that you actually talked about, so be sure to fix that. Crude in art usually refers to something from the stone age or earlier when people did not yet fully understand how to represent the natural world or didnt have the tools to do so (but even in that case, the word crude is considered overly pejorative in modern scholarship). So, saying that a painting by Leonardo is crude, is not a great word choice.

Also, the section where you discuss the white creature, is problematic. For one, the animal is called an ermine, so be sure to say that. Next, if you are going to mention a scholars theory, you must cite your source. Additionally, as a student in an intro class, you dont really have the authority to say that a well-accepted art historical theory is untrue. However, you can say that this symbolism does not carry over into modern times. Be sure to more thoroughly discuss the theory. Why would a white ermine be symbolic of royalty and purity?

Now, moving on to the description of the woman, I dont see the phallic appearance of the face (and am not sure that a face really even can look phallic). I also dont see any sloppiness to the posture. Additionally, when you are describing her, be a little more careful. Try to describe the image in a manner that is more neutral first, then criticize after you have finished describing the image. It gives you more credibility as a writer and shows you have respect for a master artist.

My biggest issue with this section of your paper though is that you are suggesting that Leonardo was not the artist of this work. Where did that theory come from? It seems like you are saying that because Leonardo was definitely a homosexual, there is no way that he could ever paint a beautiful woman.

First of all, we dont have real proof of that Leonardo was a homosexual. We know he was accused of sodomy as a young man, but those charges were dropped and we know that he was most likely celibate for the majority of his life. Nothing from his journals, diaries, letters, or poetry prove or even suggest that he had relationships with men. Nor do any of the biographies written about him by the people who knew him. There are modern historians who theorize that he was a homosexual, but these theories have not been completely accepted or proven.

Additionally, sexuality during the Renaissance was much more fluid than we tend to think, so the idea of someone being a homosexual is complicated (this is a very interesting topic, but too complex to get into here).

But, regardless of what his sexual preferences were, the logic of your assertion is flawed. You argue that Leonardo could not have painted this image because the woman is beautiful and he was a homosexual. There have been many gay artists throughout history (Im sure many more than we will ever know about), but just because they prefer men as their sexual partners, that does not mean that they are unable to paint a beautiful image of a woman.

When scholars say that a work was done by Leonardo, its because they have done a huge amount of testing on and studying of the image. They are very careful with that assertion because its such a big deal to find one of his works. To date, they have only classified 36 paintings as his or coming from his workshop. So again, you dont really have the authority to say that these scholars, who have dedicated their lives to identifying Leonardos works, are wrong.

I think you should take some time to rework this section, so if you would like, you can have until Sunday at 11:59pm to revise and I wont take points off for lateness. Please let me know if you have any questions or if any of this was unclear.


Julia Walker
Adjunct Professor of Arts and Humanities

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