Written by Prarthana Sheopuri, Managing Editor.
The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings in the world.
What is the Mona Lisa? A Quick Look
- The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonarda da Vinci sometime between 1503 and 1519
- It is housed at the Louvre in Paris – the world’s most-visited art museum
- Was painted on a poplar (a kind of a plant) plank which essentially is a wood panel
- An Italian academic claims that the Mona Lisa is an unfinished piece
- Leonardo da Vinci did not complete the Mona Lisa as he was suffering from paralysis (says the academic)
- It is said to be the most visited work of art in the world.
Who is the lady in the painting?
There are three probable theories of who the lady is that historians have speculated on
- She is a lady named Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a rich silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo who lived in a little town in Italy named Florence. He is said to have asked Da Vinci to paint it to celebrate the birth of their second son, Andrea. But there are no records of this fact.
- Could have been the painter’s mother, Caterina. It is believed that Mona Lisa’s smile could have been an unconscious memory of Caterina’s smile.
- It could have been a self-portrait of the artist.
The painting was acquired by King Francis I of France.
Top 10 fun facts about the Monalisa
1. The Mona Lisa was painted on a poplar plank, which essentially is a wood panel.
2. Some historians believe that the Mona Lisa is an unfinished painting as Da Vinci’s right hand became partially paralyzed in the year 1517 and so it became difficult for him to paint.
3. Many people who see it for the first time are usually disappointed as the painting is quite small; 30 in × 21 in, though it’s almost 8 kg in weight.
4. It hangs behind a bulletproof glass case and barricades at the Louvre Museum in Paris in a climate-controlled environment.
5. According to the French Heritage Law, the painting can’t be bought or sold.
6. The painting was once stolen in 1911. When the news of the crime broke, it caused an immediate sensation. The empty space where the painting hung became a popular sight for locals as well as tourists. In a bizarre twist, the famous painter; Pablo Picasso was arrested as a suspect!
7. Two years after being stolen the Mona Lisa was found in Italy when an art dealer was contacted about selling the piece. The man convicted of the crime, Vincenzo Peruggia, was an Italian immigrant to France, who used to fit glass on paintings at the Louvre. He was assisted by two other workers in taking the portrait from the wall. They hid it in a closet overnight and then moved it in the morning. Peruggia hid it in the false bottom of a trunk as he was unable to sell it due to media attention. He was imprisoned for the theft while the painting toured Italy. It finally reached the Louvre and by then the French had come to regard it as a national treasure.
8. The painting has since travelled to the United States in the year 1963 and then to Japan in 1974. It travelled to the US in a first-class cabin on a ship to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It was in the country for six weeks.
9. Ten years later it travelled to Japan where it had quite an adventurous stay. It went on view in a heavily guarded room at the National Museum —its second appearance outside France in more than 450 years. A young woman sprayed red paint in the direction of the Mona Lisa but luckily no damage was done to the masterpiece.
10. In 1956, not one but two people attacked the painting. A man threw acid at it when it was on exhibition at a museum in Montauban, France, whereas another threw a rock at it when it was in the Louvre.
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