Seven Things You Do Not Know About The Mona Lisa
Plain fact; the Mona Lisa is a world-renowned piece of art by Italian painter, Leonardo Da Vinci, but that isn't all there is to know about it.
It has now been over 500 years since the world-renowned Italian painter, Leonardo Da Vinci, painted the Mona Lisa.
Also called La Gioconda, Mona Lisa is easily the most celebrated paintings of all time. John Lichfield’s 2005 article “The Moving of the Mona Lisa” affirms this when he described the painting as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied, work of art in the world.”
Also, in testament to its greatness, the Mona Lisa holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known insurance valuation in history at 100 US dollars in 1962.
Ironically, Leonardo Da Vinci had not wanted the painting to be privy to the eyes of the general public. The famous painter had secretly done the art in his room, where he hid it until his death when it was discovered under his bed.
Mona Lisa had hence been the subject of mystery ever since its discovery. These several mysteries, as you will come to see them, have all contributed to making the world-renowned painting the favorite classical art that it is today.
SEVEN INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE MONA LISA
1. WHO WAS MONA LISA
The person who modeled as Mona Lisa for Leonardo Da Vinci is still the subject of contention till this very day.
It was argued that the painting was modeled after the wife of a Florentine cloth merchant called Lisa del Giocondo nee Gherardini, who was the painter’s acquaintance then.
This is why some people have chosen to dub the painting ‘La Gioconda’ which means ‘the happy one.’
Many historians have since disputed this, saying that the model for the painting could not have been so insignificant.
2. MONA LISA’S TALENT OF DISAPPEARING
Da Vinci’s 16th-century painting never got its fame until it was suddenly stolen in 1911 by an Italian man who lived in Paris.
The painting had initially belonged to Italy until the French Revolution when it was acquired by the French government. This was why Vincenzo Perugia, an employee at the Louvre Museum in Paris, had subsequently stolen the painting on 21st August 1911, with the aim of returning it to Italy for a hefty reward.
This, of course, caused mayhem for French law officials who had to be to be on the lookout for the culprit of the theft.
It was two years later that Perugia was caught with the painting repossessed. Many people have since flocked to the Louvre museum to view the painting, which had left the French authorities up in arms for two years.
3. NAPOLEON ONCE HUNG IT ON HIS BEDROOM WALL
The world-famous painting of Mona Lisa passed through the hands of different French Kings before it was placed in the Louvre Museum in 1815. One of such kings was Napoleon Bonaparte, who put the painting in his bedroom.
The legendary French conqueror had inherited the painting from French kings right from the art collection of King Francis I of France.
The painting remained in the bedroom of Napoleon until his eventual defeat at the famous battle of Waterloo. He was subsequently arrested, and some of his properties, such as the Mona Lisa, were readily confiscated from him.
Soon after this, the painting was placed, to the viewing delight of the general public, at the Louvre Museum in 1815.
4. MONA LISA AS A TARGET PRACTICE
The world-renowned painting of the Mona Lisa easily became an epitome of creativity, beauty, and the finesse of history. It is then somewhat confusing that this painting has faced its share of attacks from people who visited the Louvre Museum in Paris.
In 1956, the famous painting faced two different acts of vandalism. A particular visitor to the Louvre Museum threw acid on the art, which minimally damaged it. In the same year, another vandal, a Bolivian tourist, threw a rock at it.
In 1974, the painting got its third attack from a woman who had sprayed red paint on it. This attack came while the painting was in the Tokyo National Museum. The woman had attacked the painting as a form of protest against the museum for not giving easy access to the disabled people.
These three attacks on the painting soon prompted the French government to place the art behind bullet-proof glass. This decision, fortunately, saved it from another attack in 2009.
A Russian woman was angry that she had not been given French citizenship. The lady had then intentionally gone to visit the famous painting at the Louvre Museum. After staring at the painting for quite some time, she summarily threw a mug at it, which shattered upon impact.
The protective bullet-proof glass had prevented Mona Lisa from suffering damages during attacks.
5. MONA LISA HAD A TWIN SISTER
There are many people out there who are not aware that the famous painting, Mona Lisa, had a twin.
The likeness of Mona Lisa is said to be painted by a student of Leonardo Da Vinci called Francesco Melzi. The twin of Mona Lisa has since been exhibited to the general public through Museo del Prado in Madrid.
A restoration work done on it in 2012 established the fact that the painting was done alongside Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
The twin has since been called ‘Mujer de mano de Leonardo Abince,’ which means ‘Woman by Leonardo da Vinci’s hands.’
6. WHAT MAKES THE PAINTING SO BEAUTIFUL
For a lady who was painted without eyebrows or eyelashes, you would think she would look ugly or at least look like an alien.
This is what a 21st-century person would think.
However, shaving off eyebrows and eyelashes are a common trend of noblewomen in the Italian Renaissance era. This is only one of the many mysteries behind Mona Lisa’s beauty.
Another commonly most probe mystery behind Mona Lisa’s beauty is her smile. The knowing smile of Mona Lisa, coupled with those eyes on the painting that seems to follow you everywhere, has won the hearts of both the masses and the nobles who have been fortunate to be in its presence.
Scientists and historians have also pondered Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile.
In 2008, the mystery behind Mona Lisa’s painting was solved. It was revealed that Leonardo Da Vinci had used the painting technique known as sfumato in which several thin paintings were applied over another to blend colors and make a blurred effect.
The application of the sfumato technique gave the painting the mysterious flare which had since been hidden behind her smile.
7. MONA LISA AS THE MOST VALUED PAINTING IN THE WORLD
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was assessed for the insurance valuation of $100 million between 1962 and 1963. This is equivalent to 830 million dollars in the present day.
This makes it the most priced painting in the world.
More money has since been spent on its security. Ironically, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, in November 2017, became the highest-priced painting by a consumer.
This placed the legendary painter, Leonardo Da Vinci as the best posthumous artist in the world.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is easily the most viewed painting in the world. Apart from been set apart by its being an embodiment of artistry, La Gioconda, or Mona Lisa, has also won people’s hearts’ with the numerous mysteries that had trailed the painting.
The mysteries include its model, its enigmatic smile, its history, as well as its penchant for luring attacks.
These mysteries have, rather than dim its popularity, made the painting what it is today—a priceless thing of beauty for every age.
Lichfield, John (1 April 2005). “The Moving of the Mona Lisa” https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-moving-of-the-mona-lisa-530771.html. Accessed on 10 October 2019.
Bartz, Gabriele (2001). Art and architecture, Louvre (https://books.google.com/books?id=A37g3x3cXOgC). Barnes and Noble Books. ISBN 978-0-7607-2577-1. Accessed on 13 October 2019.
Steffes-Halmer, Annabelle. “7 Things You May Not Know About the Mona Lisa”. Accessed in https://p.dw.com/p/2lZle on 11 October 2019.