Mona Lisa (Gioconda) by Leonardo Da Vinci

The Mona Lisa is undoubtedly the most famous painting in the history of art. In 2003-2006 we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the painting. On April 6, 2005 - following a period of curatorial maintenance, recording, and analysis - Mona Lisa was moved to a new location within the museum's Salle des États (Louvre Museum, Paris, France). Mona Lisa is displayed in a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure behind bullet-proof glass. About 6 million people view the painting at the Louvre each year. Mona Lisa always has a mob in front of her, which makes the moment of intimacy with the painting... well, less intimate.

"Mona Lisa" or "La Gioconda"
Painted from 1503 to 1506 (four years) by Leonardo Da Vinci
Size: 30" in high by 20 7/8" wide (77cm by 53 cm)
Oil on a poplar wood panel
Mona Lisa´s inventory number at the Louvre is # 779.
The painting is unsigned and undated.
Mona Lisa´s painting has no assigned monetary value. It is priceless.

From the beginning Mona Lisa´s portrait was greatly admired and much copied and it came to be considered the prototype of the Renaissance portrait. According to Vasari, the woman in the painting is believed to be Lisa Gherardini, born Tuesday, (the only day the Louvre is closed) June 15th 1479. She married Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobidel Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine merchant, when she was 16. At the time of the painting she was 24 and had 2 sons.

The original title of the painting was Monna Lisa. Monna is a contraction for Madonna, Mia Donna (Madam or My Lady). It became Mona Lisa, in English, due to a spelling error. She is La Joconde in French and La Gioconda ("the merry one") in Italian. The painting was among the first portraits to depict the sitter before an imaginary landscape.

The painting is a half-length portrait and depicts a woman whose expression is often described as enigmatic. The ambiguity of the Mona Lisa´s expression, the monumentality of the half-figure composition, and the subtle modeling of forms and atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the painting's continuing fascination. Leonardo Da Vinci used a pyramid design to place the woman simply and calmly in the space of the painting. Mona Lisa´s folded hands (sign of her reserved posture) form the front corner of the pyramid. Mona Lisa´s breast, neck and face glow in the same light that models her hands. The light gives the variety of living surfaces an underlying geometry of spheres and circles.

Mona Lisa has no visible facial hair. Her eyebrows may have been inadvertently removed during an early cleaningand restoration. There is also the possibility that Mona Lisa may have shaved or plucked them as was the fashion in her day.

In the 16th century, The Mona Lisa became the property of the French King, Francois I who was an acquaintance and admirer of Leonardo da Vinci.

Mona Lisa Stollen

On August 21, 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian carpenter employed at the Louvre stole the painting from the wall of the Salon Carré where it hung between Correggio's Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine andTitian's Allegory of Alfanso d' Avalos leaving only the 4 iron pegs to which it was attached. It was recovered 2 years later in 1913.

Crimes Against Mona Lisa

On December 30th, 1956, a Bolivian named Ugo Ungaza Villegas, stared at the Mona Lisa for a while, then threw a rock at it, damaging a speck ofpigment near her left elbow.

Mona Lisa on Tour

In adition, Mona Lisa has been to the US in the 60's and to Japan and Moscow in the 70's.

Why Is Mona Lisa Famous?

- Mona Lisa was painted by a much admired genius who possessed as much mystique as his subject. It was a revolutionary painting using innovative techniques contrapposto, sfumato, chiaroscuro and a pyramidal composition. It was admired as a masterful work, regarded as such even in his lifetime, copied by many painters including Raphael. The realism of the painting the translucency of the flesh and the creativity of the background in relation to the figure all contributed to this.

- Mona Lisa was purchased by the King of France who kept it in his chateau, The Fontainebleau, where it dazzled dignitaries and members of the upper class. By the 1800's it was hanging in Napoleon's bedroom in Tuileries until 1797 when it was moved to the Louvre. France was the center of art and culture and in the Louvre Mona Lisa became accessible to the masses for viewing.

- With the advent of the printing press in the late 1800's, images of Mona Lisa´s painting were reproduced and circulated all over as it made news.When it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911, there was a barrage of world wide media attention which brought unprecedented familiarity to all levels of society. When it was recovered in 1913 it made stops in Italy for viewing with celebration, adulation and more media.

- During the 19th century it was subject of poetry, plays and songs. Mona Lisa was called a "femme fatale" adding intrigue and mystery to the meaning of her smile.

- In 1919, Dadaist, Marcel Duchamp painted a mustache and goatee on a post card to mock the painting. This too, received a great deal of attention and became Duchamp's most famous work of art.

- Mona Lisa toured the US in 1963 where a million and a half people rushed to view it, toured Japan and Moscow in 1974 where over 2 million came. Viewers left poems and flowers in front of the painting as if it were a religious icon.

Source: Mona Lisa Mania and Mona Lisa on Wikipedia

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