The Mona Lisa painting has agonized, inspired and challenged the artist and the thinker in us for centuries and will continue to do so, but what is it about the painting that makes it the most famous painting of all time?
She occupies the most hallowed room in Louvre, and hides the code to the biggest secret of mankind (or so Dan Brown would like us to believe)…and why …why does she smile so?
Art critic Allessandro Vezzosi says “Her legendary indirect gaze provokes a reaction known as the Mona Lisa Syndrome: the viewer is enchanted by her smile, which becomes increasingly enigmatic and indefinable, transforming the painting as a whole into a mysterious mirror”
Mona Lisa –the history
Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda(La Joconde) was painted in the 16th-century and is an oil on poplar wood.
According to art historian Vasari, Leonardo Da Vinci started painting Mona Lisa in 1503 and completed it 4 yrs later. Da Vinci sold the painting to King Francios 1 for 4000 ecus.
After Leonardo's death the the panel at both sides of the painting was removed. Originally there were columns on both sides of the figure, as we know from early copies. The edges of the bases can still be seen.
It was lost in anonymity until the 19 th century Symbolist painters took notice of it and associated it with their idea of “feminine mystique” (ethereal embodiment of feminity).
Mona Lisa smiles…?
For nearly 500 years, a sense of bafflement overwhelms those who stare at Da Vinci's most famous portrait.
She appears to be smiling at times and the very next moment the smile fades away. What is this mystery behind the smile? Is she smiling at all? How did the great painter capture such a mysterious expression and why haven't other artists copied it?
The Italians have devised a word to describe Mona Lisa's smile: sfumato. It means blurry, ambiguous and up to the imagination.
In 2005 Dutch researchers, after years of work, came out with an answer. After running the painting through an emotion recognition software (specially designed for this very purpose), they claimed that the smile is 83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful, 2% angry, less than 1% neutral, and not surprised at all.
Mona Lisa – Lost and Found
An enchanting painting with a befittingly colorful past. That's the easiest way to describe the hide and seek that this masterpiece has palyed with history. After being stationed in the Louvre for five years, it was stolen on August 21, 1911. The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid in the investigation of the theft. Many painters including Pablo Piccasso and his friend Guillaume Apollinaire, were questioned. Not a trace of the painting was found until two years later Louvere employee Vincenzo Peruggia was arrested attempting to sell it to a Florence art dealer.
Lisa Gherardini –the real Mona Lisa?
The model for this painting is supposedly a certain Lisa Gherardini , wife of a famous Florence silk Merchant. She was aged about 24 when this painting was made and her husband was a good friend of Leonardo's father.
However many believe that this is not true , and there are hundreds of alternative suggestions, some even claiming that it's a self potrait.
Mona Lisa might be a portrait of a bored wife of a rich silk merchant or it could be Leonardo Da Vinci's way of expressing his bifurcated mind and physicality by painting himself as a woman, but most importantly it is a mystery that has inspired us to imagine.