Mona Lisa – The Story of a Painting

 

Unless you have been living on another planet for the last 500 years, you must have heard of the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa. Painted by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, the canvas has an estimated net value of 800 million USD and can be admired at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The painting has an interesting story and raised many controversies and conspiracy theories throughout the years. Here is everything you need to know about it, its history, and its contributions to modern art.

 

What is the Mona Lisa?

The famous work of Italian writer, artist, and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa was completed in 1506. It is said to portrait a young woman seated against an imaginary landscape.

The female character envisioned by da Vinci is believed to be Lisa Gherardini, the wife of famous merchant Francesco Giocondo, hence the painting’s alias, La Gioconda. The artist used a variety of painting styles and techniques, including the “sfumato” to create the borderless and fluid background.

 

Famous owners

Throughout its history, the artwork passed through several hands, including the ones of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. He was an avid supporter of fine arts and even had the painting hanging on his bedroom wall.

Bonaparte is said to have fallen in love with the woman from the painting. Because of her resemblance to Gioconda, Napoleon fixated on another Italian woman named Teresa Guadagni, who was, in fact, a descendant of Giocondo’s wife.

 

Dimensions

Seeing the Mona Lisa with your own eyes can prove disappointing because of the painting’s actual dimensions. You would assume that for a portrait so famous, it would at least come in a decent size, as most other Renaissance works.

Without trying to crush your dreams and expectations, the popular painting only measures 30 by 21 inches and weighs little above 18 pounds. And, since it is the centerpiece of the museum, you won’t have a hard time finding it, since thousands of tourists constantly surround it. Therefore, catching it up close and having some spare time to analyze it is virtually impossible.

The subject of many robberies and recoveries

As you would assume, the story of the painting and its recent history is quite tumultuous. It has fallen into the hands of various “restorers” throughout the years who only managed to damage it.

The portrait was also attacked several times, including by a Bolivian citizen named Ugo Ungaza Villegas, who threw a stone at it in 1956. Only a few months before, another man threw acid at it, managing to damage its lower section superficially.

The famous painting was also the subject of many thefts, the most recent one taking place in 1911. The French people were in shock and even mourned its disappearance. An interesting fact is that Pablo Picasso was considered one of the primary suspects, since he had been caught stealing art from the Louvre before.

 

The world’s most beautiful art galleries

If you are interested in art, then you definitely cannot wait to enjoy the greatest art galleries in the world. Even if you are not an art fan, there are galleries that will still impress you. Some of them are listed below.

  1. Uffizi Gallery

This is one of the most wonderful art galleries in the whole world. Besides the fact that it is in the heart of Italy, in one of the most artistic Italian cities where the greatest artists were born (Florence), it has the biggest Renaissance painting collection in the world.

From the very first step into the gallery you will have the feeling that you have traveled back in time, due to its historical aura. Be prepared to see the most fascinating works of art of those times. If you are interested in Renaissance art, you will never be able to forget this visit.

 

  1. Musee d’Orsay

If you happen to be in Paris, you should definitely visit Musee d’Orsay, since it has a unique collection of Impressionist works, that are a historical treasure. You will have the opportunity to see works by artists like Pissarro, Monet, or Degas.

 

  1. Picasso Museum

This gallery is entirely dedicated to Picasso and all his works. People usually know about this artist that he used to paint abstract works, because they were the most popular. However, Picasso was more than that.

The museum’s architecture is just as incredible as Picasso’s works. If you ever happen to visit Barcelona, this gallery should definitely be on your must-see and must-visit list.

 

  1. Gagosian Gallery

This fascinating gallery was founded in 1980 and the artists that it represents are Nam June Paik, Anish Kapoor, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ed Ruscha and Damien Hirst. The gallery has also worked with architects as Caruso St John and Richard Meier.

Besides contemporary exhibitions, the Gagosian Gallery also focuses on historical ones, having exhibitions of artists like Picasso or Andy Warhol. The galleries are located in New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Athens, Geneva, San Francisco, and Hong Kong.

 

  1. Sprueth Magers

This gallery is focused on highlighting the talent of female artists, because its founder, Monika Sprüth was very disappointed by the fact that Cologne, Germany was mainly represented by male artists. Monika succeeded in showing the work of famous female artists, such as Barbara Kruger or Jenny Holzer.

Sprueth Magers has spaces in Berlin, Los Angeles and London.

 

Of course, there are many other galleries that have their own style, theme and history that have to be seen in a lifetime, because each of them is unique. Art is one of the few things that are able to make humans feel something and express their emotions. We have to take every chance we have to see pieces of art, because they are not just objects – they also hide (and express) the feelings of the artist.

 

Interesting facts about Pablo Picasso

 

Born Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, he was never pleased with playing just one role in his life. He was Catalan, Spanish, and French altogether, a prodigy and an irresponsible adult in Paris, a passionate lover, husband, and father. But, above everything else, Picasso remains the most brilliant artistic personality of the 20th century, a fruitful painter who changed the life of modern art once and for all.

Almost 80 years of artistic activity reflect Picasso’s multilateral creation and indisputable role in the world of art. Although known as a brilliant painter, Picasso was also a remarkable sculptor, drawer, poet, and potter. Picasso was famous for his contribution to the modern arts as well as for private life.

Here are some of the most important facts you need to know about Pablo Picasso.

He had one of the longest names in the history

Although Spaniards and Latin Americans, in general, are known for using multiple names to baptize their children, Picasso benefitted from the help of various family members so that his full baptized name contains no less than 23 words.

His full name is Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Mártir Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso. However, he preferred to take the last name from his mother’s side, Maria Picasso y Lopez.

 

A child prodigy and an unconventional artist

Picasso expressed his wish for drawing at a very young age and he was tutored by his father, an art professor, and an artist himself. He began taking art classes at only 7 years old and by the time he was 13, he had already surpassed his father in style, vision, and talent.

However, although he was accepted at various prestigious art schools, Picasso always hated the rigidity and conventionalism of classes. Art seemed to become more technical and left little to the imagination and the fantasy of each painter.

So, he decided to seek inspiration in real life scenes and on city streets as opposed to what he was learning in art school. He became extremely interested in certain people categories so he began painting gypsies, prostitutes, and beggars.

 

Various painting styles determined by his love life

Picasso’s style varies as he enters different stages of his life. He started off as a classic, style that was attributed to the beginning of his life with a quiet family and pleasant working ground.

By 1921, the artist begins to experiment with surrealism, a modern art movement to which he adheres but never fully adopts.

In his personal life, Picasso was often seen as a heartbreaker. He was married twice, had about six mistresses and hundreds of other love affairs throughout his life. He had four children and married for the second time when he was 79 years old.

His tumultuous love allegedly determined one wife, one mistress, one child, and one grandson to commit suicide.