The story of Mona Lisa

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The Mona Lisa is probably the most celebrated artwork in the world history. This painting of priceless worth was created by Leonardo-da-Vinci, the best renowned Italian painter from the Renaissance Period. The painting is believed to have been executed sometime from 1503-1506. Originally commissioned in Italy, this original piece is now on display in the Louvre Museum of Paris in France. About 6 million people visit the painting each year at the museum.

Who is Lisa?

This is a half body commission of a woman named Lisa Gherardini, one of the wives of a wealthy merchant, Francesco Del Giacondo who requested Leonardo to take up this work. She was named ‘Mona Lisa’ after the subject of the painting and Monna was derived from “Madonna” meaning a lady. Monna later became Mona in English. Lisa was married to Giacondo when she 16 and they had 2 sons. Her husband wanted to get this painting done to celebrate the completion of their house and the birth of their second son. Leonardo took to paint this portrait of a young 24-year-old woman.

What is spesh about this painting?

It is an oil painting on a cottonwood panel. This cottonwood panel attributes to its survival traits of almost 6 centuries without leaving much work for restoration. This painted survived through millions of admiring viewers, multitudes of research studies, debates, and displays in nationwide exhibitions of countries, the world-famous thefts, and vandalisms. Most of the paintings of the Renaissance period depict biblical senses whereas this painting of Mona Lisa stood out receiving the greatest applause of all-time with its life-emanating image, intricate details in the eyes, corners of her lips and particularly her right hand. It is famous more so for its grand theft and the controversies and research it is subject to. There have been extensive debates over whether or not she has eyebrows. Most agree with the notion that Lisa probably had her eyebrows plucked or shaved when Leonardo began painting her. The transparency with which the thin veil on her head is highlighted is quite a remarkable feature of this work. The realistic ways in which the tone of her cheekbones, nose and the right hand are wonderfully painted accentuate this masterpiece as a whole.


The Theft

In 1911, the painting of Mona Lisa disappeared from the wall in Louvre with just the four nails which held it in place, staring emptily ahead. It was only after 24 hours after the theft that it was actually discovered by anyone. Suspects were arrested and exonerated. But, the investigation about the painting remained a lost cause. After two years, in 1913, Vincenzo Perugia, an Italian employee of the Louvre who stole the painting gave himself away while trying to sell it to a Florence gallery. He was an Italian patriot who wanted the masterpiece to belong to only Italy where it had been originally created by Leonardo. After the retrieval of the painting, it resumed its place in the museum of Louvre.


Mona Lisa’s painting has been confronted with many assaults over the years. The first time someone assaulted the painting was in 1956 by throwing acid over the bottom half of it, thereby causing severe damage to the masterpiece that stood the tests of time over 6 centuries. The second time someone attacked it was in the same year. A rock was thrown at it, dislodging a speck of piece from the near the elbow. These damages were restored and covered up with water painting. The painting’ security measures were thickened and it was enclosed in a bullet proof glass. Another time was when a frustrated woman who was denied of French citizenship decided to throw a ceramic cup at the painting. But, the brainchild of Leonardo remained unharmed this time.

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