The painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci has been described as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, [and] the most parodied work of art in the world." But do you know why? You can read the 100-page description on Wikipedia (like we did) or cut to our CliffsNotes version featuring the top 10 facts about the Mona Lisa below.
Top 10 Facts
Fact #1 - The painting was created by Leonardo Da Vinci, an artist, scientist, and inventor from the Italian Renaissance period.
Fact #2 - No one knows the exact year Mona Lisa was painted. Many art historians believe it was created by Leonardo da Vinci between 1503 and 1506, though some believe it may have been painted as late as 1517.
Fact #3 - The Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It is estimated to be worth more than $860 million.
Fact #4 - The painting was not widely known up until its theft from the Louvre in 1911 by Vincenzo Peruggia, a museum employee. The painting was recovered two years later when Peruggia was caught attempting to sell the painting.
Fact #5 - The painting is actually quite small. Its dimensions measure just 30 inches by 22 inches.
Fact #6 - Art historians disagree on the subject of the painting, but it is thought to likely be a portrait of the Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo.
Fact #7 - Most of the world knows the painting as Mona Lisa, an abbreviation for Madonna Lisa (similar to Madam Lisa or “my lady Lisa” in English). But in France the painting is called La Foconde meaning amused woman and in Italy, the painting is called La Gioconda, the married name of the person many believe the portrait is based on.
Fact #8 - One of the most popular reasons for Mona Lisa’s fame is her smile, or not. The painting creates an optical illusion so that when you look into her eyes it appears as though she is smiling, but when you focus on her lips it appears as she is not smiling.
Fact #9 - Other factors contributing to the painting’s fame and popularity involve the use of several unique and innovative techniques to paint the Mona Lisa. One such technique was the sfumato technique. Leonardo da Vinci created the sfumato technique of painting in which tones and shades are used to create light and shadows without the use of lines or borders.
Fact #10 - The image of the Mona Lisa has been used and recreated in advertisements, paintings, music videos, movies, and other popular culture mediums countless times since gaining fame. Andy Warhol famously aligned multiple Mona Lisas like strips of passport photos in Thirty are Better than One (1963). Jay Z and Beyonce appeared in front of the actual Mona Lisa in the rap video “Apes**t”. One person even created a Mona Lisa out of toast.
The painting is typically on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. It is a must-see if you ever visit. But if you can’t go