Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year c. 1503–1519
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
Mona Lisa
Vitruvian Man
The Baptism of Christ
Annunciation
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.

Background

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.

Techniques Applied

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.

Theft

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.

Vandalism

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.

53 Responses to “Mona Lisa”

  1. slushyx says:

    The mona lisa is the best painting in the world and Leonardo da vinci is the best artist, people just take the mona lisa and change it for fun guys LEAVE IT ALONE because shes beautiful xx

  2. ludy bergenthal says:

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder as the saying goes !Mona Lisa is one of the paintings that withstood in the hands of time ,You can almost feel her not only looking at you but one can feel the mischief in her smile coupled with her irresistible charm She possess.It is so mystifying and haunting a reason for me to go to Paris and see the original portrait and become a believer of how great a master piece it has been and done by the greatest oil painter of all times.And may i add the other famous artwork ,”The Last Supper “executed by Leonardo Da Vinci an Italian who was dubbed
    the Universal Man of the Renaissance Period.

  3. Leonardo da Vinci says:

    I see you like my painting. Thank you

    • UNANWERED23 says:

      so..what was you intention of this painting? i mean..the smile says so much. SEEMS LIKE SHE HAS SO MUCH ONHER MIND..what were your thoughts at the time of painting it? its one of the most well known paintings in the world.BEAUTIFUL<3..Im doing an essay on the facts of The Mona Lisa in reality and in The Da Vinci Code…

    • harbar2000 says:

      Dude, Leonardo da Vinci died on May 2, 1519 · age at death: 67 years so……. no

      • Juliet :) says:

        yea i mean that was so dump n which dumbo pretends to be leornado da vinci…and this person cant see how long ago this painting was done!!!

    • Emanahmed says:

      Leonardo da Vinci
      You are not Leonardo da Vinci because he died long long years ago

    • Robert says:

      Al right LEO, if she were a merchants wife where is the wedding ring?

  4. monika says:

    MONA LISA IS A VERY GOOD PAINTING

  5. Felecity says:

    I think the Mona Lisa is a really good painting. Leonardo da Vinci is awesome =D

  6. i hate you says:

    how dare you call leonardo da vinci infamous.

  7. Vicki holmes says:

    I think this is the best painting ever!! :) One of my favorites!!

  8. Desting Rewers says:

    LOVE THIS PAINTING!!!!!! :D

  9. UNANWERED23 says:

    AMAZING PAINTING

  10. Gaurav says:

    monalisa painting is a very glorious and sence ful painting its so cute.

  11. aakriti says:

    i like this painting.

  12. RAHUL says:

    monalisa is a good painting by leonardo da vency is a good artist…………………

  13. khushbu says:

    monalisa is a good painting by leonardo da vency is a good artist…………………

  14. Jazmine says:

    can anybody tell me the article’s author?

  15. Martha from Greece says:

    Someone told me that Mona Lisa is the female version of Da Vinci!!! Was Leonardo Da Vinci gay???? =O

    • riztys says:

      Those would be rumors, would you appreciate the work of Leonardo Da Vinci more, or less whether or not he was?

  16. Rece says:

    can you imagine the time and skill it took to make this piece? i find the fabric on her forarms and her facial bone structure to be the most impressive. the eyes also give off a very enigmatic feel. i wish i had this artistic skill. may this painting bring my essay many good fortunes.

  17. Leonardo Da Vinci says:

    I think you like my painting, thank you! BUT I AM DEAD!!!

  18. steve says:

    its just a painting

  19. kelly says:

    i love this painting its so eyecatching

  20. I found the copying of Mona Lisa on canvas very challenging. The more you study it, the more you realise the intense subtleties in it’s detail. The copy I made was twice the dimensions of the original painting and it was still extremely difficult, actually impossible to imitate. Very much the same as the self portrait etchings made by Rembrandt in the 17 th centuary.The perfect artwork technically, and in concept

  21. audrey says:

    this painting is so amazing.

  22. lutaaya kamada says:

    its well drawn

  23. Grace says:

    This was an interesting article with many cool facts. I wonder why people tried to steal it.I’m just glad that it is safe now.

  24. divincifan says:

    This was an interesting article with many cool facts. I wonder why people tried to steal it.I’m just glad that it is safe now

  25. Piyush Suthar says:

    I want to know in this painting any secret message & if yes , so what is ?

  26. Nancy Overbeck says:

    Who is Mona Lisa? Don’t go into mental contortions any more, and forget all those “Lisas”, “Isabellas”, “Pacificas”, “Salais” … The mystery has finally been solved. Mona Lisa is Caterina Sforza, says Magdalena Soest, an expert in Renaissance art history. She provides a chain of clear and crucial evidence (see her book: ‘Caterina Sforza ist Mona Lisa. Die Geschichte einer Entdeckung’).
    … Soest’s Mona Caterina was Italy’s most beautiful, brave, enigmatic, fascinating, libidinous, feared and famous ‘virago’. Men worshipped her, singers and poets praised her, but her enemies damned her. She kept smiling.

    • alisha says:

      Dr Nancy ….
      I wanted to know that what is the main point of monalisa’s picture which make this picture very famous and great….plz reply me first…I wanted to know….

  27. Nancy Overbeck says:

    Dear Piyush Suthar,
    I’d like to answer your question. Indeed there is a secret message in the Mona Lisa painting. Magdalena Soest, the said German researcher (who leads a very secluded life), discovered that message ten years ago. HERE IS THE CODE:
    Soest analysed the embroidery on the neckline of Mona Lisa’s dress – to discover a combination of Sforza emblems (‘fleur de lis’) and of Medici emblems (‘fleur de lis’, oval, interwoven rings) there; likewise Soest analysed the winding road of the landscape – to identify it as the heraldic serpent of the Sforza arms, the major emblem of the House of Sforza: In the Mona Lisa painting there are represented the very symbols and emblems of Caterina Sforza, who was an illegitimate daughter of the Milanese duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza, and the widow of Giovanni de’ Medici!
    Caterina Sforza is Soest’s “Mona Lisa”.

    • SARAT MOHANTY says:

      The monalisa word has two components; Mon meaning man in English and alias in English too. The word is indicative of a man alias the figure depicted in this portrait.Monalisa is the portrait of a man.

  28. sarat mohanty says:

    can’t say whether he was gay. But someone rightly analysed the painting and said the correct one to you based on his research. It is really the feminine model of Da Vinci. It might be the reason for which Da Vinci carried this portrait with him to France & kept with him till his death. There are four words embedded in this painting; two on the embroidery line on the upper chest area and one each on the arms. The words are,god,cod,MR & Vinci. Cod literally means ‘a foolish person’. The painter of this painting appears to have commented ‘ god a foolish person Mr Vinci’. Find out yourself. Download an original image in full resolution, zoom it sufficiently and trace out the words in the indicated areas. I think you can find out your answer. We believe in evidences; not on historical narrations.

  29. Hajira Falak says:

    One thing missing that is no eyebrows

    • sarat mohanty says:

      Da Vinci appeared to have shaved his eyebrows, moustache & beards in order to assume a beautiful ‘monalisa’ look. It is also the reason for the enigmatic smile of Monalisa; a famous male painter like Da Vinci himself assumed a feminine form to create one of the world’s best paintings.

  30. amy pham say says:

    love it, good picture.

  31. Absolutely astonishing

  32. Varsha Persaud says:

    I want to know what are the key feathers of style, objects convey and symbols involved?????

  33. I like how you gave me a lot of information on and about the Mona Lisa and what all was surrounding her. it takes a lot of time to sit down and actually look and interpret and analyze the amazing piece of art.

  34. george schroder says:

    You state that the Mona Lisa is painted on a cottonwood panel. Others say on a poplar panel. Cottonwood is a very open grained wood, unsuitable for woodworking of any kind, whereas poplar is tight grained and tends to be very even… ideal for a painting panel. Please, what is your source???

  35. Emma says:

    I love how you answered all of the questions that I needed.

  36. Emma says:

    any idea on what materials Leonardo Da Vinci used to make the Mona Lisa?

  37. justabystander says:

    I sometimes do not understand people

  38. justabystander says:

    why is the left side of her hair curly and the right straight as can be??????

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