“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
― George Orwell,
And we can certainly say that the above statement qualifies best for the Mona Lisa! The mystery has in fact only built up because no one seems to know the entire story. Only conjectures based on past research and claims have piled up. And the heap continues to grow. However, after much digging we have come across some vital information. But due to the chaos regarding the Mona Lisa, people have mistaken fact for fiction and vice versa.
So to ease your curiosity below are 30 important pieces of information that you probably didn’t know about the World’s Most Famous painting Mona Lisa:-
30. Da vinci is Mona Lisa’s creator.
Leonardo da Vinci started this painting when he was 51. Besides being a painter at the time, he was also a sculptor, an architect, an engineer and a draftsman. He was an Italian Renaissance artist and apart from the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper is another one of his masterpieces.
29. The Mona Lisa was nameless.
Leonardo da vinci never gave a name to the painting. In fact he never even signed or dated it. It is also queer that none of his diaries have the name Mona Lisa mentioned even once.
28. The date of completion is not known.
The date of completion is not known. Some say that he never completed the painting, while others argue that his death brought with it the completion of the painting.
27. It is not that big!
It measures 77 cm by 53 cm. And most people on seeing it are usually surprised and even disappointed.
26. The Louvre is Mona Lisa’s abode.
The Louvre museum in France is Mona Lisa reposes.
25. The sitter’s identity is not known.
The sitter’s identity is not known to any person living. Graves have been dug up in search of the truth behind the painting. The sitter is said to be Lisa Gioconda, the wife of a Florentine merchant. However, nothing has been proven yet!
24. She has no eyebrows or eyelashes.
Apparently eyebrows and eyelashes weren’t in fashion in those days! Whatever its shape might be.
23. Painted with a technique called sfumato.
This technique was developed by Leonardo himself. It is used to refer to his smoky or blurred style of painting. His soft strokes helped blend objects with the background. The word sfumato comes from “fumo” meaning smoke or fume.
22. She has traveled more than you can tell.
The Mona Lisa has been exhibited in many parts of the world. She has travelled from Italy to France to New York to Tokyo!
21. The painting has also been vandalised.
A rock was thrown at it in 1956! What on earth can cause a person to despise a painting so much so that he’d want to vandalise it? It does make one wonder! Even so art destruction was prevalent earlier and continues to prevail now.
20. And has also been attacked with acid.
In 1956, acid was also thrown on the painting that damaged its lower portion.
19. The painting was stolen too.
The Mona Lisa was stolen on August 21, 1911 only to be recovered two years later!
18. The thief was thought to be Picasso.
Pablo Picasso was questioned when his friend Apollinaire pinned the crime on him! Although later he was released.
17. Its theft gave it fame.
I daresay it gained popularity after it was stolen from the Louvre! It was gone for two whole years!
16. She is a World War II survivor.
The Mona Lisa was saved along with several art works. In 1938 it was shipped to the country side due to the serious threats of the impending war.
15. Albeit said to be priceless, the Mona Lisa has a value.
The French government never plans on selling the Mona Lisa. The painting was, however, valued at $100 million in 1962. Now the painting should cost around $782 given the amount of inflation, according to wikipedia.
14. She or rather her smile is considered ‘Enigmatic’.
Most viewers have been allured by her smile! Some say that her smile becomes more prominent on looking at it from an angle. Her smile seems to either change or change the viewer’s mindset. What do you think?
13. Closely focused half-portrait and the first of its kind.
According the Louvre’s online site, the painting “The Mona Lisa is the earliest Italian portrait to focus so closely on the sitter in a half-length portrait.”
12. Painted on a wooden panel.
The painting is on a ‘thin panel of poplar wood’! Since wood is susceptible to damage owing to climate change, the Mona Lisa is placed in a climate-controlled glass case at the Louvre.
11. Dan Brown’s novel injected people with renewed interest.
Dan Brown through his novel claimed that the precise location of the Holy Grail could be found with the help of clues given on the Mona Lisa! Many a young reader became more interested in the painting after having read The Da Vinci Code.
10. There are two layers of painting below the Mona Lisa.
What we see is the third Mona Lisa. So in all, there are three layers of paintings. The repainting could have been done for various reasons and to know the exact reason we would have to wake da vinci from the dead!
9. Born in Italy, brought up in France!
Leonardo begun the painting in Italy, carried it to France where he is said to have finished it. If the painting was really commissioned in Italy, Leonardo should have left it in Italy.
8. The painting has its own mailbox.
The painting is the only one in the entire Louvre to have its own mailbox. This is primarily because of the huge numbers of fan mails it receives.
7. Emulations have been made in all possible forms.
Thousands of artists have tried to copy the Mona Lisa. Some tried to get the exact copy while other made some changes!
6. The first copy was perhaps made by da vinci’s own student.
Although some claim that an exact copy was made alongside the real painting by one of his pupils, there has been no evidence to prove the same. Salai, however, did make a copy of the Mona Lisa. He called it Monna Vanna. It is a nude version of the Mona Lisa.
5. People owe their fame to it.
Ray Evans and Jay Livingstone wrote a song titled “Mona Lisa” which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song! The Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown brought him immense fame. It has become one of the best selling novels of all times again owing to the existence of Mona Lisa and Da vinci himself.
4. Napoleon had her for some time.
When Napoleon came to power in France, the Mona Lisa was restored to its place in his bedroom.
3. The entire background is a landscape.
It is perhaps owing to this that photographs of people were taken in front of vivid landscapes. Earlier on painters did not use landscapes as the background for their portraits!
2. Done in oil.
As opposed to tempera or fresco paintings, the Mona Lisa has been painted in oil. Sfumato technique done in oil helped Leonardo obscure the hard outlines around Mona Lisa’s form.
1. It has a twin called The Isleworth Mona Lisa!
The Isleworth Mona Lisa has the same sitter. It was earlier on mistaken for Leonardo’s painting. The sitter or Mona Lisa in this painting looks approximately ten years younger than the one on the actual Mona Lisa.
Don’t worry I am as confounded as you are! We can only hope that the mystery is revealed while we live. Or maybe there is no mystery to it at all. And it has all been created by the mind. You see we humans love to complicate things especially to draw attention!