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.
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.
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.