The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is 16th century oil painting created by the renowned Leonardo da Vinci. The work of art depicts an enigmatic woman gazing at the viewer, and it is said that if you move across the room while looking into her eyes, they’ll follow you. It is definitely one of the most popular paintings worldwide and has been the center of many artistic, religious, and theoretical debates. The French government currently owns the Mona Lisa and it is featured at the Musee du Louvre in Paris. The painting can also be referred to as La Gioconda or La Joconde.

The name of the painting stems from the name of the woman in the portrait, Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy businessman in Florence, Italy named Francesco del Giocondo. Mona means ‘my lady’ or ‘madam’ in modern Italian, so the title is simply Madam Lisa. Art historians agree that Leonardo da Vinci likely began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503, and completed it within 4 years. In 1516 the King of France, King Francois, bought the painting and it is thought that after Leonardo’s death the painting was cut down. Some speculators think that the original had columns on both sides of the lady, whereas other art critics believe that the painting was never cut down in size. It has been suggested that there were 2 versions of the Mona Lisa painting, but many historians reject the second version.

The duplicate copy can be found at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. After the French revolution the painting was moved to the Louvre, and Napoleon had it placed in his bedroom for a short time before it was returned to the Louvre. The popularity of the Mona Lisa increased in the mid 19th century because of the Symbolist movement. The painting was thought to encompass a sort of feminine mystique.

In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. The art thief hid in a broom closet until the museum closed, stole the painting, hid it under his jacket and walked out the front door. Eduardo de Valfierno was the mastermind behind the theft and has planned to make copies of the original and sell them as the real thing. Eventually, in 1913, he was caught when trying to sell the original to a Florence art dealer. The Mona Lisa is most famous for her facial expression, her enigmatic smile and da Vinci’s mastering of tone and color in the painting. There is much mythology and interpretations relating to the painting that mystify the world. Many art critics and art history buffs suggest that the Mona Lisa is actually a portrait of da Vinci himself in feminine form. In addition, most viewers see the meaning behind Mona Lisa’s smile very differently.

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