Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, also known as Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Wife of Francesco del Giocondo, Italian La Gioconda, or French La Joconde, is arguably the most well-known artwork in history. It was painted probably between 1503 and 1519, while Leonardo was a resident of Florence. It is currently on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, which has continued to draw tourists into the twenty-first century. The sitter’s enigmatic smile and unidentified status have drawn attention to the artwork and sparked continuing research.

About Mona Lisa Painting

The picture shows a half-body portrait of a lady, which also features a background landscape in the distance. However, this brief explanation of what appears to be a routine composition does nothing to convey Leonardo’s accomplishment. The three-quarter view, which deviated from the typical profile attitude employed in Italian painting and turned the sitter’s position primarily toward the viewer, rapidly became the norm for all portraits and was continued until the twenty-first century. The gently sculpted face of the figure demonstrates Leonardo’s mastery of sfumato (application of subtle shading), as well as his comprehension of the muscles and the skull beneath the skin. The perfectly crafted hair, the expertly painted veil, and the meticulous depiction of folded linen reveal Leonardo’s keen observations and unending patience.

Furthermore, the valleys and rivers behind the sitters are shaped to mirror the sensual contours of her hair and attire. Leonardo’s notion of the cosmic link between people and nature is reflected in the painting’s general harmony, notably evident in the sitter’s small grin. As a result, this picture is an enduring reminder of Leonardo’s vision. The Mona Lisa established the bar for all subsequent portraits with its beautiful fusion of sitter and environment.

The subject’s identity has been the subject of much conjecture and discussion. Numerous hypotheses have been put out by academics and historians, including the idea that she is Lisa del Giocondo (née Gherardini), the wife of Florentine trader Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo, which gives the work the alternate title La Gioconda. Giorgio Vasari, a biographer of artists, initially proposed such identification in 1550. Another hypothesis is that Caterina, Leonardo’s mother, served as the model. This theory was advanced, among others, by Sigmund Freud.

He believed that the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic grin was inspired by an unconscious recollection of Caterina’s smile. The painting’s self-portrait theory was a third option, supported by the sitter’s and the artist’s striking facial similarities. Some academics argued that the artist’s puzzle involved dressing as a woman. The identity of the sitter has not been established with certainty. In the twenty-first century, several unsuccessful attempts have been made to resolve the controversy by locating Lisa del Giocondo’s bones to analyze her D.N.A. and make a replica of her face.

History of Mona Lisa Painting

Around 1503, Leonardo da Vinci started painting the Mona Lisa, which was still there until he passed away in 1519. He most likely added several layers of thin oil glazes at various periods over several years of sporadic labor. The entire painting has small paint bubbles, or “craquelure.” Still, the hands, where Leonardo’s latter works were painted with thinner glazes, have finer craquelures.

After Leonardo’s death, the painting was purchased by French King Francis I, at whose court the artist spent his final years, and it was added to the royal collection. The image was kept hidden in French palaces for many years until the French Revolution when rebels declared the royal collection to be the people’s property (1787–99). At the start of the 19th century, the Mona Lisa was placed in the Louvre Museum after spending some time hanging in Napoleon’s bedroom.

The 1911 theft of the painting sent shockwaves across the media. The Louvre’s director of paintings resigned, crowds of people came to see the empty wall where the picture had formerly been displayed, and Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire were even detained as suspects. Two years later, a Florence art dealer informed the police that a guy had attempted to sell him a picture. A trunk belonging to Italian immigrant Vincenzo Peruggia, who had previously worked for a short time at the Louvre installing glass on several paintings, including the Mona Lisa, was discovered by police to contain the image. On the morning of August 21, 1911, he and maybe two other employees crept into a closet, removed the painting off the wall, and fled unnoticed. While the Mona Lisa traveled through Italy before making a triumphant return to France, Peruggia was detained, prosecuted, and sentenced to jail.

The Mona Lisa, identified as the most dangerous piece of art in the Louvre during World War II, was evacuated to various places in rural France and brought back to the institution in 1945 following the conclusion of hostilities. It then made its way to the United States in 1963, when it spent six weeks at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City draws nearly 40,000 visitors daily. In 1974, it also made tours of Moscow and Tokyo.

Condition of Mona Lisa Painting

According to academics, the Mona Lisa is in reasonably decent shape considering its age. Due to resistance from the poplar panel’s original frame and the bracing that early restorers applied, there is some indication of warping. Dovetails were applied to the rear of the painting to stop the minor break that can be seen at the center of the upper edge from getting worse. Later, restorers covered the fracture with thick canvas and rebuilt the top dovetail.

A bulletproof cover was put in place to safeguard the Mona Lisa following three attacks in 1956, one of which caused damage to the region just below the subject’s left elbow. As a result, the Mona Lisa was spared from wear in 1974 when it was displayed in Tokyo and in 2009 when a visitor hurled a ceramic mug at it.

The impact of the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa significantly impacted the Renaissance and succeeding periods, altering modern portraiture. In addition to the three-quarter position being the norm, Leonardo’s preparatory sketches inspired other painters to do more and looser studies for their paintings and inspired collectors of those sketches. His Milanese works were introduced to the Florentines through his drawings. His standing as a thinker and artist also spread to his contemporaries, ensuring them a freedom of expression and thinking akin to his own. One of them was the young Raphael, who sketched Leonardo’s work in progress and used the Mona Lisa format for his portraits. It was an obvious inspiration for his Portrait of Maddalena Doni (c. 1506).

La Giaconda is clothed in a colored shift that is freely pleated at the neck rather than the restrictive clothing that was fashionable at the time, which wonderfully illustrates this feature of his thesis.

Additional Mona Lisas

There are at least a dozen superb reproductions of the Mona Lisa, several created by Leonardo’s pupils. The Prado Museum in Madrid houses one such replica allegedly painted years after the original. Conservators learned that the painting had alterations that paralleled those of the original during the restoration of the piece in the early 2010s, which included employing infrared reflexology to look at the work underneath the surface. The research showed that the duplicate was painted. At the same time, Leonardo worked on the Mona Lisa in his workshop, maybe by one of the master’s helpers. As a result, the Prado version is the only one finished during Leonardo’s lifetime. A detailed landscape that resembles Leonardo’s rendition and brilliant colors, potentially echoing those of the original before the varnish used by early restorers deteriorated with time, were revealed when conservators thoroughly cleaned the whole painting and removed its black backdrop.

The so-called Isleworth Mona Lisa, which some observers claimed to be Leonardo’s original rendition of the famous image, is one of several replicas of the Mona Lisa. The assertion was contentious, and some prominent Leonardo experts categorically refuted it. There are also other seminude renditions, often known as Monna Vanna, which Leonardo’s pupils probably created with sporadic guidance from their teacher. The prevalence of Mona Lisas is due, at least in part, to the subject’s near-instantaneous embodiment of the ideal woman: stunning, mysterious, responsive, and still just out of reach.

This iconic figure has been given a new life in popular culture. Her legendary status was parodied in schoolboy style in Marcel Duchamp’s readymade L.H.O.O.Q. in the 20th century by adding a mustache and goatee to a postcard replica (1919). Dadaists’ rejection of historical art, which in their opinion was a component of the infamy of a civilization that had created the atrocities of the recently concluded First World War, was represented by his irreverent destruction of this most famous of iconic paintings. Thirty Are Better than One, one of Andy Warhol’s serigraphs, is one example of how he attacked the standing of the painting (1963).

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