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Home   News   Arts News   The Mona Lisa: Mysteries And Secrets Of A Masterpiece

By Deni Porter | YEET MAGAZINE | Updated 0439 GMT (1239 HKT) May 16 , 2022

Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa ( Italian : La Gioconda or Monna Lisa), or Portrait of Mona Lisa , is a painting by the artist Leonardo da Vinci , painted between 1503 and 1506 or between 1513 and 1516 , and possibly until 1519 (the artist died that year on May 2)  , which represents a half-length portrait, probably that of the Florentine Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo . Acquired by François  I , the oil painting on poplar wood panel measuring 77 × 53  cm is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris . The Mona Lisa is one of the few paintings definitely attributed to Leonardo da Vinci .

Why is the mona lisa so famous?

The Mona Lisa has become an eminently famous painting because, since its creation, many artists have taken it as a reference. During the Romantic period , artists were fascinated by this painting and helped to develop the myth that surrounds it, making this painting one of the most famous works of art in the world, if not the most famous: it is in any case considered one of the most famous representations of a female face in the world  . In the 21st  century, it has become the most visited work of art in the world, ahead of the Hope diamond  , with 20,000 visitors who come to admire and photograph it daily 6 .

Summary

  1. Description
  2. Story
  3. Old Regime and modern era
  4. 19th  century
  5. Theft of the painting in 1911
  6. The Mona Lisa during the two world wars
  7. Since the 1950s-1960s
  8. The model
  9. Denomination
  10. Lisa Maria Gherardini
  11. Hypotheses
  12. Table analysis
  13. Technical
  14. The smile and the look
  15. The landscape
  16. Various studies
  17. Versions and copies of The Mona Lisa
  18. Mona Lisa of Isleworth
  19. The Prado Mona Lisa
  20. The Mona Lisa of Epinal
  21. Other copies
  22. Cultural references
  23. Influences and diversions
  24. Jean Margat collection
  25. Song
  26. Literature
  27. Comic
  28. Animated series
  29. Amusement park
  30. Movie theater
  31. Notes and references
  32. Appendices
  33.  external links
  34. Bibliography
  35. Items
  36. Works
  37. French
  38. Italian

Description -  The Mona Lisa with its frame.

portrait of a woman.

Mona lisa who is she?

The Mona Lisa is the portrait of a young woman, against a backdrop of a mountainous landscape with distant and misty horizons. She is arranged in three-quarters and represented up to the waist, arms and hands included, looking at the viewer, which is relatively new at the time and breaks with the hitherto widespread portraits, which cut the bust at shoulder height. or chest and are entirely in profile 7 .

The woman wears a dark green silk dress pleated in the front, with yellow sleeves. It is adorned with gold interlacing and embroidery at the neckline. A translucent black veil covers the hair and is clearly visible on the top of the forehead. This kind of mantilla  flattens curly or finely curly hair that falls over the shoulders. The narrow eyes are clearly framed and the gaze seems to follow the viewer even as they move because they are perpendicular to the picture plane.

The low-cut bodice frees the throat and the chest up to the birth of the breasts and the outline of the left shoulder, which softens the severity of its veil. A tenacious legend born of the presence of this raw veil and the absence of jewels wants Mona to wear mourning for her daughter Camilla who died in 1499.

In reality, her dark clothes are due to the darkening of successive varnishes, the veil black is a traditional hairstyle at this time and the absence of jewels results as well from the choice of the painter as of the model not to yield neither to vanity, nor fashionable although Mona Lisa is a wealthy woman. The purpose of this portrait thus aims to underline the timelessness of its psychological expression. The region of the heart, with the light color of the skin which contrasts with the dark clothing, is in the center of the painting, at the intersection of its two diagonals.

The face is completely depilated, showing neither eyelashes nor eyebrows. According to the hypothesis of Daniel Arasse , confirmed by a spectrographic analysis in 2004, the eyebrows and eyelashes of Mona Lisa would have been erased around the middle of the 16th  century by an unknown person, because women of good society had adopted at that time the practice of prostitutes in previous decades and now waxed their faces 9  ; which would go in the direction of the description of the Mona Lisa by Giorgio Vasari  .

Mona Lisa is seated on a kind of semi-circular wooden armchair placed in profile, with armrests and a kind of semi-circular balustrade (called “spalliera” or “dorsal”) supported by bars. His arms are bent and his hands crossed, the left arm resting firmly on an armrest of the chair and the right hand resting limply on the left wrist. She is probably on the terrace of a loggia with arcades: we can see a parapet just behind her in the first third of the painting, as well as the beginning of the swollen base of two columns.

The Mona Lisa is located in front of the parapet, which traditionally constituted a border between the figure represented and the spectator, it is therefore inscribed in the space of the latter.

In the background is a mountainous landscape in which stand out a winding path and a river spanned by a stone bridge. We can notice a break in the horizon line: the head of the young woman separates the painting into two parts (a humanized landscape of brown color and an imaginary landscape of an opaque blue whose horizon line coincides with her gaze ) in which the horizon is not at the same level .

The soft light source comes mainly from the left of the painting and gives Mona a luminous complexion in contrast to the dark clothes  .

Leonardo considered his Mona Lisa complete. However, two areas seem to have been neglected: a portion of the landscape, reddish brown, behind the shoulder, interpreted as a movement of land, and the contour of the index finger of the right hand, a repentance intended to be masked.

The multispectral digitization (from ultraviolet to infrared ) carried out in 2004 by the engineer Pascal Cotte also detected the repentance of Vinci on the position of the index and middle finger of the left hand. She also highlighted a blanket that initially covered her knees and explains the positioning of the hands. Finally, the multispectral study suggests that da Vinci produced the painting in four main stages, including a portrait with a headdress, made of pearls, draperies and hairpins, which evokes a seemingly “mythological or sacred” project .

The work already enjoyed great consideration during the Renaissance . Here is what Giorgio Vasari says about it in his work of 1550  :

“Whoever wanted to convince himself to what extent art can imitate nature, could do so all the more because the smallest things are rendered in this head with the greatest finesse. The eyes had that brilliance, that moisture which ceaselessly exist in nature, and were surrounded by those pale reds, and eyelids which can only be executed with great subtlety. We saw the way in which the eyebrows are born in the flesh, which sometimes thicker, sometimes lighter, swirl according to the pores indicated by nature. The narrow nose was no less well rendered, and all those beautiful reddish and delicate openings. The vermilion mouth and its extremities blended so well with the complexion of the face, that one believed rather to see the flesh there than the color. When' one looked attentively at the hollow of the throat, one seemed to perceive the beating of the pulse; and one can say with truth that this portrait was painted in such a way as to make the greatest masters fear and tremble.. »

How much is the mona lisa worth 2022

2 billion  dollars The Mona Lisa , a priceless treasure.

The Mona Lisa has become the most visited art object in the world. Its value is "immeasurable", it is priceless, but if we had to put a figure in front of the painting of the Mona Lisa its estimate would be between 1 and 2 billion dollars.

Story

Old Regime and modern era

Agostino Vespucci's note written in 1503 in the margin of a Heidelberg University book , identifying the sitter as Lisa Gherardini.

The date of execution of the portrait is debated . The discovery of a note recorded by the Florentine official Agostino Vespucci confirms that the artist worked on the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo in Florence in 1503 and Giorgio Vasari claims that he left it unfinished after four years  .

However, many experts such as Carlo Pedretti and Alessandro Vezzosi are convinced that stylistically, the Louvre Mona Lisa is characteristic of the artist's work after 1513. Upon discovery of Vespucci's note, Vincent Delieuvin, curator of 16th century Italian painting  at the Louvre, says “Leonardo da Vinci was painting the portrait of a Florentine lady named Lisa del Giocondo. Of that, we are certain. Unfortunately, there is no absolute certainty that this portrait of Lisa del Giocondo is the Louvre painting. »

Raphael's drawing around 1504.

Additionally, Raphael , when studying the works of Leonardo, made around 1504 a design of a "Mona Lisa", which, unlike the Mona Lisa, is flanked by wide columns. Experts agree that this drawing is based on the portrait of Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo . As in Raphael's design, other later copies of the Mona Lisa, such as those in the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo and the Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore contain large columns . This is why many experts were certain that the Mona Lisa originally contained these columns, which would have been cut later.

However, as early as 1993, Frank Zöllner observed that the pictorial layer of the Louvre painting had never been cut. This was confirmed by scientific examinations in 2004 . Therefore, Vincent Delieuvin affirms that Raphaël's drawing as well as these copies with columns must have been inspired by another version , while Frank Zöllner thinks that the drawing indicates that Leonardo would have executed another work on the theme of the Mona Lisa.

The Château du Clos Lucé , in Amboise .

The Mona Lisa never left Leonardo during his lifetime. He won at Clos Lucé , in Amboise , where François  I brought him . A copy of La Joconde , rediscovered in 2012 after its restoration at the Prado Museum , made it appear to researchers that the two paintings had been made at the same time down to the repaints and repentances , infrared analysis revealing that landscapes of rocks in background to the right of the Mona Lisa were based on a preparatory drawing dated between 1510 and 1515  , which suggests that  The Mona Lisa was completed in 1519 according to Vincent Delieuvin.

The fate of the painting during the last years of Leonardo's life and those that followed has not yet been elucidated . On the one hand, the inventory of the possessions of Salai , Leonardo's assistant, established at his death in 1525, includes a Mona Lisa of very great value . Many experts agree that this painting is a work of Leonardo . On the other hand, a document discovered in 1999 shows that the Mona Lisa of the Louvre would have been acquired in 1518 and would therefore not be the one in the possession of Salai in 1525. Following the discovery of this document, the Louvre attests that their painting entered the royal collection in 1518.

King François  I acquired it and installed it in the Château de Fontainebleau, where its presence is attested in the cabinet of paintings in the 1600s  . In 1646, the painting was present in the gilded cabinet of Anne of Austria 's bedroom in Fontainebleau before Louis XIV decided to bring it back to Paris. In 1665-1666, he moved from the Louvre Palace to the Ambassadors' Gallery of the Tuileries Palace . Louis XIV transfers the painting to the king's gallery at the Palace of Versailles in the years 1690-1695.

19th  century _

In 1793, La Joconde , then in the collections of the Palace of Versailles, was not selected for the first hanging of the works inaugurating the central museum of the arts of the Republic (the future Louvre museum). It entered the museum's painting collections in 1797, and was presented to the public for the first time in 17981. It was moved again by order of First Consul Bonaparte , who had it hung in the Tuileries Palace in 1801 in Joséphine 's apartments , then returned it to the Grande Galerie du Louvre in 1802 .

Why is the mona lisa so expensive?

The painting's popularity increased in the middle of the 19th century  , as evidenced by its move in 1851 to the Salon Carré , a small room reserved for masterpieces on the first floor of the Louvre, and the dissemination of engraved reproductions of the portrait. Romantic poets like Théophile Gautier , painters like Théodore Chassériau or writers from the Marquis de Sade to Jules Michelet make Mona Lisa the archetype of the femme fatale by describing her enigmatic smile and the melancholy that emanates from it. The Mona Lisa even appears as a mythical claim for Walter Pater when he makes a long description of it in his essay La Renaissance .

In 1870, La Joconde was put in safety in the undergrounds of the Arsenal of Brest, then returned to the Louvre at the end of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 .

Theft of the painting in 1911

Mona Lisa at the Louvre, in 1911 before its flight (painting by Louis Béroud ).

The crowd comes to contemplate in the Salon Carré the four pitons after the flight, the "hole" being replaced in december 1911by the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione .

Cardboard donkey from the 1912 Nice Carnival wearing the empty frame of La Joconde and the false tiara of Saïtapharnès .

The Mona Lisa on display in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, 1913. Museum director Giovanni Poggi (right) inspects the painting.

the August 22 , 1911, the painter Louis Béroud goes to the Louvre to make a sketch of his next painting Mona Lisa at the Louvre , but instead of La Joconde he finds only a large void. Béroud questions the guards, who tell him that the work must be in the photographic studio of the Braun house. A few hours later, Béroud inquired again about the work from the supervisors and he was told that Mona Lisa was not with the photographers. The painting was indeed stolen on August 21 , 1911. Prefect Louis Lépine sent Octave Hamard , chief of security for the police headquarters, and sixty inspectors. to the scene . Criminologist Alphonse Bertillon discovers a thumbprint on the abandoned window, and decides to take the fingerprints of the 257 people working at the Louvre. The analysis of the dactylograms yields no results, which leads to the resignation of the director of the Louvre Théophile Homolle .

The examining magistrate Joseph Marie Drioux, whom the press ironically nicknamed "the marri of the Mona Lisa" , imprisoned the poet for several days.Guillaume Apollinaire for complicity in harboring a criminal. Apollinaire had indeed, a few years earlier, employed as secretary and factotum Géry Pieret, an adventurer of Belgian origin who had himself stolen Phoenician statuettes and masks from the Louvre: having contacted theAugust 28the daily Paris-Journal , he sends him a statuette stolen from the Louvre then out of bravado accuses himself of having stolen the painting and claims 150,000 gold francs for its restitution; while he was on the run, the Assize Court of the Seine sentenced him in absentia in 1912 to ten years' imprisonment for the theft of the three Iberian statuettes . The police also suspect the painter Pablo Picasso who is questioned at length (he had bought his masks and statuettes from Géry Pieret, the primitivism of which will influence Les Demoiselles d'Avignon ). The theft is claimed by several mythomaniacs, including the Italian writer Gabriele D'Annunzio   who in 1898 had composed a tragedy entitled La Joconde , dedicating it to “Eleonora Duse aux belles mains ” .

The Society of Friends of the Louvre offers a reward of twenty-five thousand francs, a sum moreover doubled by an anonymous person. The review L'Illustration promises fifty thousand francs for whoever would bring the painting back to the premises of the newspaper. The painting acquires on this occasion a worldwide fame .

The case also attracts the attention of chansonniers and revelers . At the 1912 Nice Carnival, a float of the Guardians of the Louvre parades . It is towed by a donkey wearing the tiara of Saïtapharnès and carrying the empty frame of La Joconde . This float then parades in Paris, on the occasion of Mi-Lent the same year .

“The Mona Lisa is found”, Le Petit Parisien , n ° 13559  ,December 13, 1913.

The image appeared on Excelsior , daily illustrated newspaper, La Joconde est Retour , 1 January 1914.

The thief is Vincenzo Peruggia , an Italian glazier who took part in the work of placing the museum's most important works under glass, in order to protect them from vandals ^ . He kept the painting for two years in his room in Paris, hidden in the double bottom of a white wooden suitcase, under his bed. Back in Italy, he offered to sell it on December 10 , 1913 to a Florentine antique dealer , Alfredo Geri, who placed an ad to buy works of art. Geri having informed the police, Peruggia was arrested in the room of his hotel (subsequently renamed Hotel Gioconda ), and was only sentenced to eighteen months in prison, the Italian press hailing his patriotism . the  January 4 , 1914, after exhibitions in Florence and Rome , the painting solemnly returns to the Louvre in a first class car specially chartered for this occasion ,  where it is now placed under increased surveillance 63 .

Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain Vincenzo Peruggia's theft: he would have acted out of patriotism to "take revenge for Napoleon 's kidnappings  " (this is the line of defense advocated by his lawyers during his trial), naively believing that the painting had been stolen by this one, then only Bonaparte, during the campaign of Italy  ; he would have acted on the orders of the Argentinian forger Eduardo Valfierno (calling himself Marquis of Valfierno), who wanted to sell as authentic six copies of the painting, made in 1910 by Yves Chaudron , to American buyers convinced to acquire the original (journalist's thesis American Karl Decker in the Saturday Evening Post in 1932).

The journalist and art critic Jérôme Coignard, having unearthed the confessions made by Peruggia in the daily Le Journal enJuly 1915, takes his testimony seriously: he would have been approached by a German who plays on his nationalism and manipulates him. This German could be Otto Rosenberg , a notorious con man belonging to a gang of high-level art traffickers who was unable to recover the painting because he was under French police surveillance following Flight 66 .

The Mona Lisa during the two world wars

Inauguration of the Mona Lisa exhibition in Washington in 1963 in the presence of the Kennedys, Vice President Lyndon Johnson , André Malraux , French Minister of Cultural Affairs and his wife Madeleine .

In 1914 , La Joconde , like a large part of the museum's collections, was put in safety in Bordeaux then in Toulouse then returned to the Louvre museum at the end of the First World War, it was then installed in the Grand Gallery.

Mona lisa where is it?

In September 1938 , following the annexation of the Sudetenland region imposed by Adolf Hitler and in the context of a risk of war, the Mona Lisa was first put in safety at the Ingres museum in Montauban but would return to the Louvre soon enough. quickly.

When war was declared, the museum's masterpieces were evacuated according to a plan devised as early as 1938 by the director of national museums at the time, Jacques Jaujard , who had the museum closed onAugust 25, 1939and place the works in crates which are evacuated in convoys three days later.

The Mona Lisa first left for the Chateau de Chambord, where many paintings and sculptures from Parisian museums transited during this period, then she found herself successively in the cellars of the Château d'Amboise, at the Abbey of Loc-Dieu , at the Ingres de Montauban museum , returns to Chambord 68 before being stored in the castle of Montal in Quercy ( Lot ) under the supervision of René Huyghe, curator of the Musée du Louvre in exile 69 , 68 then transiting through various anonymous residences in Lot and the Causses , which would thus have housed the painting until June 1945  when it was reinstalled in the Louvre . The Mona Lisa , “enclosed under a red velvet padding, then in a case, which is placed in a box with double poplar wood wall [… and] bears the number NLP n o  0, as well as three red dots — distinctive signs of its very  great value .

In 1946, warned by René Huyghe, chief curator of the paintings department, of the return of the works, Pierre Jahan photographed it when opening its box: "It finally appears, intact, having escaped five years of upheaval and the all-powerful Marshal Goering 's craving for works of art …” ( cf. Objectif - Marval, 1994, p.  37 ).

Since the 1950s-1960s

Louvre visitors crowding in front of the Mona Lisa in July 2015.

theDecember 30, 1956, a young Bolivian waiter who came to work in France, Ugo Ungaza Villegas, subject to an expulsion order, throws a pebble at La Joconde , in a state of insanity. He breaks the protective glass and the shards of glass damage the left elbow of Mona Lisa.

Indecember 1962 , Minister of Culture André Malraux ships La Mona Lisa to the United States . She is traveling on board the liner France , in a first class cabin . Upon arrival, the painting was exhibited first in Washington at the National Gallery , where it was received by President Kennedy , then in New York , at the Metropolitan Museum of Art fromJanuary 1963. In his introductory speech, Malraux makes a comparison with ancient statuary: “Leonardo brought to the woman's soul the idealization that Greece had brought to her features. The mortal with the divine gaze triumphs over the gazeless goddesses. It is the first expression of what Goethe will call the eternal feminine  . Mona Lisa will be admired by 1.7 million visitors in total. She is back in France inmarch 1963.

She also made another trip to Japan where she was exhibited from April to July 1974 in the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo and then briefly in Moscow . For this voyage, his first watertight showcase was built, guaranteeing his safety .

Since March 2005 , the Mona Lisa has benefited from a renovated room at the Louvre Museum, specially equipped to receive her, the Salle des Etats, in which she faces a famous painting by Veronese , The Wedding at Cana . Placed on an independent picture rail , it is protected in a box which isolates it from vibrations, variations in humidity and changes in temperature (airtight showcase ensuring a hygrometry of 55% and a temperature of around 19  °C ).

The Mona Lisa is part of the collections of the Paintings Department of the Louvre Museum, directed since 2014 by Sébastien Allard . Until 2006, it was under the responsibility of curator Cécile Scailliérez ; since 2006, the 16th century italian paintings in  the Louvre Museum have been managed by Vincent Delieuvin .

the August 2 , 2009, a Russian tourist throws an empty teacup on the table protected by armored glass, causing no damage.

Too fragile, the painting no longer leaves the Louvre museum.

Its notoriety has become such that of the millions of visitors to the Louvre, nearly half only come to see this painting.

The model

Several assumptions have been made about the identity of the model. The generally accepted hypothesis is the identification of the Mona Lisa with Lisa Gherardini , wife of Francesco del Giocondo.

Denomination

The title of the painting probably comes from the surname of the subject "del Giocondo". The painting was originally called "Monna Lisa", and this is still the case in Italy, or by its more common but erroneous deformation "Mona Lisa", a contraction of " my donna Lisa " which can be translated as "madam Lisa ".

Lisa Maria Gherardini

Main article: Lisa Gherardini .

Depiction of Leonardo da Vinci painting The Mona Lisa . Painting by Cesare Maccari in 1863.

According to the hypothesis accepted since Giorgio Vasari , the model was originally called Lisa Del Giocondo, born Lisa Maria Gherardini inMay 1479  in Florence (Tuscany). Coming from a modest family, at the age of 16 she married the son of a silk merchant, Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo. Already twice widowed, Giocondo is 19 years older than Lisa. She gave him three children, Piero Francesco - born in 1496 - a girl with an unknown first name who died in 1499 and Andrea - born in 1502. The name of the painting comes from Madonna (Ma dame, in French ), abbreviated to Monna, and Lisa, first name of the model.

Francesco del Giocondo had a family chapel in the Church of the Santissima Annunziata, where he was later buried. This church was held by the servants of Mary , who in 1501 hosted Leonardo, son of Piero da Vinci, the notary of their order. It is likely that Leonardo and Francesco met at this time.

In 1503 , Francesco del Giocondo moved into a larger residence, via della Stufa, and sought a painter to paint the portrait of his wife. He turns to Leonardo da Vinci . This hypothesis seems confirmed by a recent discovery . In an edition of Cicero 's work , found in Heidelberg , Germany , and dated 1503 , its owner Agustino Vespucci, a friend of Leonardo da Vinci , annotated a page of the work, indicating that Da Vinci had three paintings in courses that year, including a portrait of Mona Lisa del Giocondo. Francesco del Giocondo never received his painting. It was unfinished when the artist left Florence for Milan .

This thesis remains debated, on the pretext that no trace of a payment has been found. The close links between Leonardo da Vinci and the del Giocondo family were established in 2004 by Giuseppe Pallanti (2007), according to whom the archives of a church in the historic center of Florence refer to a death certificate of "the 'wife of Francesco Del Giocondo', who died onJuly 15, 1542 and buried in the Sant'Orsola convent.

According to Daniel Arasse , if he were alive when the painting was finished, Francesco del Giocondo would have felt outraged and would probably have turned him down. According to him, at that time a woman with a receding hairline and plucked eyebrows could only be a prostitute. Analyzes of the painting after 2000 have shown that the Mona Lisa has her head covered with a transparent or inconspicuous veil.

Hypotheses

Probably the Mona Lisa (Leonardo's mother). (1499-1500).

A conjecture is based on an analogy: the face of Mona Lisa would be superimposed on that of Catherine Sforza , princess of Forlì ( 15th century )  , in a portrait painted by Lorenzo di Credi . This portrait is kept in the museum of Forlì , Italy .

Antonio de Beatis, who visited Vinci in 1517 at the Clos Lucé , described 88 a painting by the master "of a certain Florentine lady, made after the model, at the request of the late Magnificent Giuliano de' Medici " , this lady could being Isabella Gualandi de Costanza d'Avalos or Isabelle d'Este , other plausible candidates for the painting of Mona Lisa 89 . According to Italian historian Roberto Zapperi , the portrait depicts Pacifica Brandini d'Urbino, one of Giuliano de' Medici's mistresses, the painter keeping the painting unfinished since his patron Giuliano de Medici died in 1516 without having paid the entire order 90 .

Daniel Arasse , in his book Histoires de peinture , writes that the "mystery" of La Joconde dates from the beginning of the 19th century , with the  erroneous attribution, to Leonardo da Vinci, of the head of Medusa in the Uffizi museum , in fact painted by a Fleming of the 17th century  . The jellyfish was made the reverse of The Mona Lisa , assuming that a monster was hiding behind her smile.

According to another hypothesis, which does not come from art historians, the subject of the painting is Leonardo's own mother, Caterina, in a distant memory. When Leonardo painted the portrait of his mother, whom he adored, she was no longer of this world. She died in 1495. Lisa Gherardini 's role was only to serve as a model. The idea is that she was alive in Leonardo's imagination . Another hypothesis is that the painting tells the myth of Isis and Osiris 92 .

Silvano Vincenti, president of the "National Committee for the Valorization of Historical Assets", a private association for the investigation of art, affirms that there are strong similarities between the facial features of Saint John the Baptist , the angel and Monna Lisa. According to this hypothesis, the Mona Lisa would therefore be a man. The painter would have left clues by painting in the eyes of the Mona Lisa a tiny L for Leonardo and an S for Salai, assistant to the painter who would have served as a model. The researcher, author of a book on the subject, reveals that his team analyzed high-quality digital reproductions of the painting. However, the Louvre museum refutes the demonstration which is based on over-interpretations based on numerous cracks due to the aging of the paint on wood 93 . Sophie Herfort considers that the portrait of Salai , an androgynous character who likes to wear pink stockings and become excessively feminized, and that of La Joconde placed in tracing paper show many analogies .

Table analysis

Technical

The blurring of the painting is characteristic of the sfumato technique . The sfumato , which in Italian means "smoky", is a vaporous effect, obtained by superimposing several layers of extremely delicate paint which gives the painting imprecise contours. This technique was used in particular at eye level in the shading.

In autumn 2004, the Center for Research and Restoration of French Museums was commissioned by the Louvre Museum to subject the painting to a series of laboratory examinations before it was placed in a new air-conditioned box. The studies use infrared emissiography and reflectography , X-ray micro-fluorescence analysis and a sophisticated, color and three-dimensional laser scanner developed by the NRC in Ottawa.

These analyzes made it possible to discover details never observed before because they were masked by the layers of paint and varnish : a characteristic network of cracks oriented according to the stresses exerted by the grooved frame inserted by the painter; the possible existence of a preparatory drawing made on a gesso and then a sketch with a brush; the entire Mona Lisa outfit completely wrapped in a “guarnello”, a thin, transparent gauze veil normally worn at the time by pregnant women or women who had just given birth, which would explain her motherly smile as a pregnant woman and the commissioning of the painting to celebrate her maternity. Sewn to the dress at the location of the embroidered neckline, this veil is rolled over the shoulder while art historians saw it as a scarf.

However, the hypothesis of the celebration of maternity is challenged by the fact that the use of the guarnello would not be systematically linked to a birth and this interior garment could have been worn at other times .

This study also reveals that the Mona Lisa is dressed in a carmine red dress (and not dark green as it currently appears) with removable golden yellow sleeves (the dark colors of the garment having undergone the obscuring of successive varnishes), and that her hair, girded with a black veil, is collected by a flat bun (hair fluttering in the wind would have been inappropriate for the time) perhaps covered by a bonnet  .

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge it.

Table detail.

Lip detail.

Eye detail.

In 2010, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility provided insight into sfumato , a technique used by Leonardo da Vinci . With the support of the Louvre Museum and after examining seven of his paintings by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry , carried out directly in front of the works at the Louvre Museum, the scientists realized that Leonardo had used his fingers to pass dozens of layers of varnish to paint The Mona Lisa but also other works such as The Virgin of the Rocks or The Madonna with the Carnation . The artist thus distinguished himself by the precision of the application of his layers of varnish, for some fifty times finer than a human hair 100 .

In 2020, a multispectral analysis of the painting reveals that Leonardo or his assistants had used the spolvero technique to transfer onto the canvas the lines of a preparatory drawing 101 , 102 .

The smile and the look

Main article: Smile of the Mona Lisa .

The Laughing Man , painted by Antonello of Messina in 1470 is the first smiling portrait in Western painting, however, the model's smile is more like a grimace, which may lead to consider the Mona Lisa as the first portrait smiling successful 12 .

The smile of the Mona Lisa is one of the enigmatic elements of the painting, which contributed to the development of the myth. Her smile seems suspended, ready to die out: when you stare at it directly, it seems to disappear only to reappear when the view shifts to other parts of the face. The play of shadows accentuates the ambiguity produced by the smile. Several studies have analyzed this smile.

According to neuroscientist Margaret Livingstone, Leonardo da Vinci studied the anatomy of the eye and visual perception for a long time to deliberately create confusion between peripheral vision sensitive to "low spatial frequencies" (the dark areas) and central vision sensitive to details: by accentuating the mouth and the smile by reinforcing the shadows on the cheekbones and the jaw, the smile only becomes visible when the peripheral vision focuses outside the perioral region 104 .

In 2005, an emotion recognition software correlated the curvature of the lips and the crow's feet around the eyes to six basic emotions : the smile of the Mona Lisa would translate happiness at 83%, disdain at 9%, disdain at 6% fear, 2% anger, 1% neutrality and no surprise percentage 105 .

Several more or less eccentric hypotheses have been given for decades to explain this smile: asthma , Bell's palsy; bruxism due to the stress of long poses or on the contrary smile of pleasure by listening to music during these sessions, maternal smile of a pregnant woman, stratagem of the painter who surrounds his model with musicians, singers and jesters, to erase melancholy of her face of an abused woman ; loss of front teeth due to poor dental hygiene in the 16th  century  , hypothyroidism .

Dozens of “scientific” studies come out each year, claiming to attribute to the Mona Lisa new illnesses explaining her smile (excess cholesterol 110 , facial paralysis, syphilis, cardiovascular problems, hypothyroidism, tendency to depression…). These diagnoses, as easy to formulate as they are impossible to prove or disprove, are widely shared in the press, and are based on almost nothing other than gratuitous assertions, formulated mainly for the purpose of easy media buzz. Scientific journalist Mathieu Vidard summarizes "if you want to make yourself known at little cost, take the most famous painting in the world, invent any fake news  about him and you will be sure to experience the intoxication of celebrity in your turn .

The landscape

The pleats of the sleeves and the bodice respond to the pattern of the path, the undulating valley and the sinuosity of the rocky peaks. Beyond the mathematical perspective, Leonardo da Vinci creates an atmospheric perspective (gradual passage from greenish-brown to bluish-green tones to finally reach the sky) 112 to give depth to the landscape which is perhaps inspired by the landscapes that he was able to see during his trip to Milan.

An art historian, Carla Glori, a researcher at the Italian University of Savona, claimed in 2011 that the medieval three-arched bridge that appears over the left shoulder is a reference to Bobbio . She detects under the right arch 113 the number 72, which would refer to the year 1472 , date of the partial destruction of the building 114 . The formulation of this hypothesis can however be motivated by the neuro-cognitive phenomenon of pareidolia  ; if this number exists, it could also be the result of chance and be explained by the cracks in the paint 115 .

According to art historian Carlo Pedretti, the bridge, the only human construction in the landscape, is the symbol of the flow of time, since its presence implies the flow of a river, which is a symbol of time that pass 12 .

Rosetta Borchia and Olivia Nesci, respectively professor of geomorphology at the University of Urbino and painter-photographer , suggest in 2012 a similarity between the landscape of the painting and those of the territory of Montefeltro , located in the provinces of Pesaro Urbino and Rimini.

Daniel Arasse , meanwhile, sees a similarity between the landscape of the Mona Lisa and a map of Tuscany, made around 1503 by da Vinci in cavalier perspective, representing Lake Trasimeno  .

Left part of the landscape.

Right part of the landscape.

Various studies

Matsumi Suzuki , an acoustician specializing in the study of the voice, and his company Japan Acoustic Lab claim to have found the voice timbre of La Joconde . Taking into account her height (estimated at 1.68  m ), the morphology of her skull , he says: “The lower part of her face is quite wide, and she has a pointed chin. This volume results in a relatively low voice, and the shape of the chin in the presence of tones in the medium ranges”, he explained to the Reuters agency  .

Versions and copies of The Mona Lisa

From the 16th  century, the Mona Lisa inspired many painters, who made more or less faithful copies and imitations of it .

Mona Lisa of Isleworth  

Main article: Mona Lisa of Isleworth .

According to the Mona Lisa Foundation, an association based in Zurich, Leonardo painted a painting prior to The Mona Lisa in the Louvre, around 1501-1503, called Mona Lisa d'Isleworth , from the name derived from the place where she appeared 118 . An exhaustive study of the opinions published to date shows that 22 experts are certain that the main parts of the painting are by the hand of the masterwhile only four, having never examined the work in person, deny the attribution . Among them, Martin Kemp, professor at the University of Oxford, writes that “there is nothing to suggest that there was an earlier version of the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo. Scientific analysis cannot categorically deny that the painting is the work of the master, but “ reflectography and X-rays suggest very strongly that it is not the work of Leonardo da Vinci. ». Professor Alessandro Vezzozi, director of the Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci ( Vinci , Tuscany), does not pronounce on the authorship of the painting as studies are in progress, but considers "that the face and the rest of the painting are not of the same quality" .

There are obvious differences between the two paintings: painting on canvas , unlike that of the Louvre which is on wood, hair, hands, clothes, background . Paul Konody considers that the existence of these differences, among others, proves that the Isleworth Mona Lisa is not a copy of the Mona Lisa.

The two most recent academic publications concerning the Isleworth Mona Lisa seem to have confirmed its attribution to Leonardo and the fact that it was painted long before the work in the Louvre: In 2015, Salvatore Lorusso and Andrea Natali conducted a comparative study in-depth study of the Mona Lisa and related works  . They also describe numerous unpublished analyzes relating to the embroideries and the columns of numerous paintings to guide their conclusions . They conclude that the Isleworth Mona Lisa and the Mona Lisa are two original works by the master . In 2016, professors Asmus, Parfenov and Elford published a study which scientifically demonstrates that the same artist painted at least the faces of the Isleworth Mona Lisa and the Mona Lisa  .

The Prado Mona Lisa

Main article: The Mona Lisa (copy of the Prado) .

A copy of The Mona Lisa , which belongs to the Prado Museum in Madrid , was rediscovered in 2012 after its restoration, which included removing a black backdrop that covered the background, which revealed the original landscape. It is attributed to Salai or Francesco Melzi , two of Leonardo da Vinci's favorite pupils  . It would have been painted around 1503-1516. It includes, in particular, the same repentances. The few differences would be due to the incompleteness of the master painting when he definitively left Leonardo's studio with the latter, forcing his disciples to complete the copy in their own way 132 .

The Mona Lisa of Epinal

The Spinalian painter and collector André Guillaud bought this copy of the Mona Lisa in 1956 at an auction at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris. He bequeathed it to the departmental museum of ancient and contemporary art of the city in 1970. The work would have been produced by an Italian painter in the 17th  century . The scientific examinations revealed good preservation of the pictorial material of the work. Only the support was re-lined at the end of the 18th  century. The quality of production of the work faithfully reproduces the original. The most important differences are the size of the canvas which is slightly larger than the poplar wood panel of the original, and the framing showing the two columns that frame the face.

Other copies

The list is not exhaustive.

  • The Mona Lisa of Thalwil; copy commonly attributed to Salai , pupil and friend of Leonardo da Vinci; it belongs to doctor Carl Muller and is located in Thalwil in Switzerland .
  • Mona Lisa of Oslo; copy dated 1525, kept at the National Gallery in Oslo , signed Bernardino Luini . MDXXV . For some art historians, it is rather a work of the French painter Philippe de Champaigne .
  • The Hermitage Mona Lisa ; 16th  century copy in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg , Russia by an unknown artist.
  • The Mona Lisa of Troyes; 16th  century copy in the Saint-Loup museum by an unknown artist.
  • Baltimore's Mona Lisa ; copy located in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore , showing columns on either side of the subject.
  • An anonymous copy is kept in the Parliament of the Italian Republic .
  • A copy is kept in the Luchner Collection in Innsbruck , Austria.
  • A copy with the two columns on either side of the bust is kept at the Musée de Beaux-Arts in Quimper.

The Mona Lisa of Isleworth .

The Prado Mona Lisa , after its restoration and the removal of the black layer.

The Mona Lisa of Epinal.

The Mona Lisa of Thalwil.

Mona Lisa of Oslo.

The Mona Lisa of the Hermitage .

Baltimore's Mona Lisa .

Cultural references

Influences and diversions

Monna Vanna , version by Salai , inspired by the original attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci is also said to have made a "nude double" of the Mona Lisa . Its attribution to the master is however not certain. There are also about twenty versions dating from the 16th  century, including that of Salai , a pupil of Leonardo  .

Corot , Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger drew variations from Leonardo da Vinci's painting.

In the 20th  century, the surrealists , in protest against "established art", hijacked the painting. Monna Lisa is given a mustache by Salvador Dalí , and by Marcel Duchamp under the title LHOOQ.

In 1981, it was the painter Henri Cadiou who staged La Joconde in a trompe-l'oeil entitled La tear – Mona Lisa 135 .

InJune 2017, a Spanish street artist created a fresco of the Mona Lisa over 50 meters  .

Illustrator Paul Kidby parodies the Mona Lisa for the cover of The Art of Discworld as "Mona Ogg".

In 2008, the painter Yanick Douet made a Mona Lisa by imagining the body as a whole, in order to personalize the woman cut in two.

Jean Margat collection

In 2014, the hydrologist Jean Margat offered the Louvre a collection of 11,000 objects dedicated to La Joconde . This acquisition was the subject of a brief presentation of a selection from this collection as part of the “Tableau du mois”: Le tableau du mois n ° 211 – De la Jocondoclastie  à la Jocondophilie 137 , with a text by Vincent Pomarède , curator of the Department of Paintings at the Louvre Museum.

Song

  • Barbara (words and music by Paul Braffort ), Serge Gainsbourg or Patachou sang La Joconde .
  • Ivan Graziani , Monna Lisa (vocals, lyrics and music) - 1978 - (Pigro album)
  • Singer Bob Dylan references the Mona Lisa's smile in one of his surreal songs, "Visions of Johanna" on the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde : "Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial / Voices echo this is what Salvation must be like after a while / But Mona Lisa must have had a highway blues, you can tell by the way she smiles is Salvation after a while / But Mona Lisa must have had the blues of the highways, her smile does not lie”).
  • Nat King Cole also sang the Mona Lisa in the song Mona Lisa written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston . She received the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1951 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1992.
  • The South Korean group MBLAQ , meanwhile, released a mini-album in 2011 called Mona Lisa , the main song of which bears the same name.
  • In 2013 the singer Will.i.am sang Smile Mona Lisa , a song inspired by the painting and recorded at the Louvre Museum.
  • In 1984 , the song I'm bored alone in my painting , performed by Amélie Morin , was inspired by the portrait of Mona Lisa: "I'm bored alone, in my painting / Under the spotlights I'm dying of heat / I've been doing my show for five hundred years / They take pictures of my smile…” 139 .
  • The singer Lio , in her compilation Suite sixtine (1982), performs the song Mona Lisa , also inspired by the painting (words Jacques *Duvall, music Marc Moulin): "You are smiling, you must surely be hiding something, I suppose..."
  • InJune 2018, she appears in Beyoncé and Jay Z's music video Apeshit , shot at the Louvre Museum.
  • In 2019, Carlos Santana released a 5-track EP titled In Search of Mona Lisa.

Literature

The French writer Jules Verne composed in 1850-1851 a comedy in one act, Monna Lisa , where he imagines the circumstances of the creation of the painting and a romantic intrigue between Leonardo da Vinci and his model.

Subsequently, "Jocondoclast" authors, from Jean Margat to Hervé Le Tellier , made the Mona Lisa a literary character.

Comic

She makes frequent appearances in comics 140 .

Animated series

She appears in Season 4 of Mysterious Cities of Gold .

Amusement park

From 1996 to 2018, a show was presented at Parc Astérix under the name " Main basse sur la Joconde  " and featured the theft of the painting by a gang of thugs.

Movie theater

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