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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Mona Lisa


Originally commissioned around 1503, Leonardo Da Vinci finished his famous Mona Lisa painting over ten years later while in the employment of King Francis I of France, though he still didn’t consider it finished.

Leonardo's work was originally 'Monna [short for Madonna] Lisa'. 'Mona' was a misspelling.

The woman in the painting is one Lisa Del Giocana whose cloth and silk merchant husband commissioned a portrait of her.

Little is known about Lisa Del Giocana s life. Married as a teenager to a merchant who later became a local official, she was mother to five children and outlived her husband, who was about 20 years her senior.

Leonardo actually painted the picture with Lisa sitting at the left and facing right ; but because his vision caused everything to look the opposite way, he saw and painted her sitting right and facing left.

According to Giogio Vasari's life of Leonardo Da Vinci, the legendary artist employed musicians and jesters to keep Lisa full of merriment and inspire a pleasing smile on her face.

Some doctors believe that Lisa's enigmatic smile was caused by muscle wastage on her right side. Another theory is that she had no front teeth.

Leonardo spent so long painting the portrait that Lisa Del Giocana's husband terminated the sitting and refused to pay for the portrait.

The reason why Mona Lisa doesn't have any eyebrows, is because it was a fashion back in that time for women to pluck them.

Leonardo drew the outline of the figure before painting; he then painted over the same drawing again and again until he got the picture he wanted. X-rays reveal that there are three completely different versions of the same subject under the final portrait.

Leonardo Da Vinci etched his initials into the Mona Lisa's right eye.

In 1516, Leonardo was invited by King Francis I to work at the Clos Lucé near the king's castle in Amboise. It is believed that he took the Mona Lisa with him and continued to work after he moved to France.

Francis I was reported to have paid 4,000 gold crowns for the portrait after Leonardo's death. The king kept it at Palace of Fontainebleau, where it remained until Louis XIV moved the painting to the Palace of Versailles.

350 years after the Mona Lisa was painted, a critic wrote a book about what it looked like—only then did it become famous in the art world.


The Mona Lisa has been held in the Louvre in Paris since 1797.  At one time a guard at the museum so fell in love with the Mona Lisa that out of jealously he would keep tourists away as he thought she was smiling at them.

The Mona Lisa was taken from the Louvre on August 21, 1911. The museum's employee, Italian handyman Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by hiding in a closet and walking out with the painting hidden under his coat after the Louvre had closed.

For the next two years, the painting was believed to be lost forever, People flocked to look at the space where it had been hanging.

Vacant wall in the Salon Carré, Louvre after the painting was stolen in 1911

Peruggia was eventually caught after he returned to his native Italy and tried to sell the painting to a gallery owner.  It was retrieved from Florence hotel room on December 12, 1913,

The Mona Lisa was exhibited in the United States for the first time, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. On January 8, 1963.


The Mini Lisa is a replica of the Mona Lisa that is smaller than the width of a human hair.

There is a nude version of the Mona Lisa painted by one of Leonardo di Vinci's pupils, titled Monna Vanna.

The displaying of the Mona Lisa has caused its colors to become quite faded. The Monna Vanna has been kept in storage and is much more vibrant.

With 9.3 million people a year visiting the Louvre in Paris, the Mona Lisa is said to be the world’s most popular art work.

The Mona Lisa has received so much fan mail at the Louvre that it is the only painting at the gallery to have its own mailbox.

On average, visitors at the Louvre spend about 15 seconds viewing the Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa — seen by six million people each year in the Louvre — is an underwhelming 77cm (30in) high.

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