|Artist||Leonardo da Vinci|
|Medium||Oil on poplar|
|Location||Musée du Louvre, Paris|
|Dimensions||30 in × 21 in|
|77 cm × 53 cm|
|Famous Paintings by da Vinci|
|The Last Supper|
|The Baptism of Christ|
|Lady with an Ermine|
|Ginevra de’ Benci|
|Adoration of the Magi|
|St. Jerome in the Wilderness|
|View Complete Works|
The Mona Lisa is quite possibly the most well-known piece of painted artwork in the entire world. It was painted by the Leonardo Da Vinci, the famous Italian artist, between 1504 and 1519, and is a half body commission for a woman named Lisa Gherardini. Her husband, Francesco Del Giocondo requested the work by Da Vinci just after the turn of the century. It is perhaps the most studied piece of artwork ever known. The subject’s facial expression has brought about a source of debate for centuries, as her face remains largely enigmatic in the portrait. Originally commissioned in Italy, it is now at home in the French Republic, and hangs on display in the Louvre in Paris.
The work was requested by subject’s husband, Francesco Del Giocondo. Lisa was from a well-known family known through Tuscany and Florence and married to Francesco Del Giocondo who was a very wealthy silk merchant. The work was to celebrate their home’s completion, as well as a celebration of the birth of their second son. Not until 2005 was the identity of Mona Lisa‘s subject fully understood, though years of speculation have suggested the true identity of the painting’s subject.
Leonardo da Vinci
The Mona Lisa is famous for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons, of course, for the popularity of the painting is the artist himself. Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the most recognized artist in the world. Not only was Da Vinci an artist, but he was also a scientist, inventor, and a doctor. His study of the human form came from the study of actual human cadavers.
Because of his ability to study from the actual form of the human, he was able to draw and paint it more accurately than any other artist of his time. While the Mona Lisa may be revered as the greatest piece of artwork of all time, Da Vinci was known more for his ability to draw than to paint. Currently there are only a handful of paintings of Da Vinci’s, mostly because of his largely experimental style of art, and his habit of procrastination. Among his most famous sketches is the Vitruvian Man, which anybody who has ever studied anatomy, human biology, or art knows very well.
But most prominently Da Vinci has been known throughout the centuries as a scientist and inventor. Amongst his ideas were a rudimentary helicopter and a tank. Some of his more notable paintings include the Mona Lisa, of course, as well as The Last Supper. He used a variety of different surfaces to paint on, attributing to a lot of his failures (and a lot of his successes) as a painter. Many of his paintings are biblical in nature, but as his talent and notoriety grew, he was commissioned more regularly for portraits.
The Mona Lisa is an oil painting, with a cottonwood panel as the surface. It is unusual in that most paintings are commissioned as oil on canvas, but the cottonwood panel is part of what has attributed to the fame of the painting. Because of the medium used for the image, the Mona Lisa has survived for six centuries without ever having been restored–a trait very unusual when considering the time period of the piece.
While most of the artwork of the Renaissance period depicts biblical scenes, it was the style and technique of the paintings of this period which make them distinguished from other eras of artwork. Anatomically correct features are one of the identifiable marks of this period of history in art, and the Mona Lisa stands out amongst the great paintings for the detail in her hands, eyes, and lips. Da Vinci used a shadowing technique at the corners of her lips as well as the corners of her eyes which give her an extremely lifelike appearance and look of amusement. Her portrait is such that to an observer, they are standing right before Lisa Del Giocondo, with the arms of her chair as the barrier between the observer and the subject of the painting.
Da Vinci also created a background with aerial views and a beautiful landscape, but muted from the vibrant lightness of the subject’s face and hands. The technique Da Vinci used in executing the painting left behind no visible brush marks, something that was said to make any master painter lose heart. It is truly a masterpiece.
The Mona Lisa disappeared from the Louvre in France in 1911. Pablo Picasso was on the original list of suspects questioned and jailed for the theft, but he was later exonerated. For two years, the masterpiece was thought to be forever lost. However in 1913, Italian patriot Vincenzo Perugia was arrested for the crime of stealing the famous painting, and the original artwork returned to its home at the Louvre in Paris. Perugia was an employee of the Louvre at the time, and he believed the painting belonged to Italy. For two years he kept the famous piece of art housed in his apartment, but was discovered when he tried selling to a gallery in Florence, Italy.
Over the centuries, the famous painting has withstood attempts at vandalism as well. The first occurrence of vandalism was in 1956 when somebody threw acid at the bottom half, severely damaging the timeless masterpiece. That same year, another vandal threw a rock at the work, removing a chip of paint from near her elbow. It was later painted over. Afterwards, the piece was put under bulletproof glass as a means of protection has kept the painting from further attempts at vandalism and destruction.
This painting has long been caricaturized in cartoons, has been replicated all over the world, and has been studied by scholars and art enthusiasts alike. The painting is the most widely recognized work of art in the entire world. The oil on cottonwood panel commission of Francesco del Giocondo’s used such precise detail to give an unbelievably lifelike appearance to the painting’s subject. This piece of Renaissance artwork completely changed the techniques and style of painting, and is revered around the world as the greatest masterpiece of all time.