Da Vinci Paints The Mona Lisa - History

Da Vinci Paints The Mona Lisa - History

Da Vinci Paints "The Mona Lisa"
In 1503- Leonardo Da Vinci completed his painting the Mona Lisa.


We live in a culture that is so saturated with images, it may be difficult to imagine a time when only the wealthiest people had their likeness captured. The weathy merchents of Renaissance Florence could commission a portrait, but even they would likely only have a single portrait painted during their lifetime. A portrait was about more than likeness, it spoke to status and position. In addition, portraits generally took a long time to paint, and the subject would commonly have to sit for hours or days, while the artist captured their likeness.

Figure 1. Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa was originally this type of portrait, but over time its meaning has shifted and it has become an icon of the Renaissance, the most recognized painting in the world. The Mona Lisa is a likely a portrait of the wife of a Florentine merchant, and so her gaze would have been meant for her husband. For some reason however, the portrait was never delivered to its patron, and Leonardo kept it with him when he went to work for Francis I, the King of France.

The Mona Lisa‘s mysterious smile has inspired many writers, singers, and painters. Here’s a passage about the Mona Lisa, written by the Victorian-era writer Walter Pater:

We all know the face and hands of the figure, set in its marble chair, in that circle of fantastic rocks, as in some faint light under sea. Perhaps of all ancient pictures time has chilled it least. The presence that thus rose so strangely beside the waters, is expressive of what in the ways of a thousand years men had come to desire. Hers is the head upon which all “the ends of the world are come,” and the eyelids are a little weary. It is a beauty wrought out from within upon the flesh, the deposit, little cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite passions. Set it for a moment beside one of those white Greek goddesses or beautiful women of antiquity, and how would they be troubled by this beauty, into which the soul with all its maladies has passed!

Figure 2. Piero della Francesca, Portrait of Battista Sforza (c. 1465–66)

Early Renaissance artist, Piero della Francesca’s Portrait of Battista Sforza (figure 2) is typical of portraits during the Early Renaissance (before Leonardo) figures were often painted in strict profile, and cut off at the bust. Often the figure was posed in front of a birds-eye view of a landscape.


The famous Mona Lisa was stolen (1911)

The famous poet Guillaume Apollinaire was initially suspected of stealing the Mona Lisa, who once said that the entire Louvre should be burned.

The most famous theft of works of art in history, when the most famous painting in the world was stolen – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, took place on August 21, 1911. It was stolen from the Louvre in Paris by one of the museum’s employees, named Vincenzo Peruggia. His motives were twofold. On the one hand, he was Italian and believed that the Mona Lisa should be exhibited in Italy because it was painted by Leonardo. Peruggi’s friend, on the other hand, copied the images, so Peruggia believed that in the event of the theft of the original, the price of the copies would rise.

The disappearance of the Mona Lisa was noticed by one museum visitor the next day. Instead of the Mona Lisa, only four nails remained where she stood. He asked the head of security where the picture was, and he thought he was taking a picture. It was later established that the picture was not with the photographer, so an alarm was raised. The Louvre Museum is closed for a week for investigation.

The famous poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who once said that the entire Louvre should be burned, was initially suspected of stealing the painting. Apollinaire was arrested and imprisoned. He tried to shift the blame to Pablo Picasso, who was also detained. In the end, both were acquitted.

It turned out that Vinzenzo Peruggia, who was an employee of the Louvre, stole the painting by entering the museum during normal business hours (when he was not on duty) and hiding in a broom closet. When the museum closed, he went outside carrying the Mona Lisa hidden under his coat.

Vinzenzo Peruggia hid the Mona Lisa for about two years in his Paris apartment. He was arrested only when he was trying to give a painting to the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence and get the award in return. Peruggia believed that the painting should be hung in some Italian gallery. After his arrest, he was sentenced to 6 months in prison, but many Italians celebrated him for his patriotism.


Leonardo da Vinci: Early Career

Da Vinci received no formal education beyond basic reading, writing and math, but his father appreciated his artistic talent and apprenticed him at around age 15 to the noted sculptor and painter Andrea del Verrocchio, of Florence. For about a decade, da Vinci refined his painting and sculpting techniques and trained in mechanical arts. When he was 20, in 1472, the painters’ guild of Florence offered da Vinci membership, but he remained with Verrocchio until he became an independent master in 1478. Around 1482, he began to paint his first commissioned work, The Adoration of the Magi, for Florence’s San Donato, a Scopeto monastery.

However, da Vinci never completed that piece, because shortly thereafter he relocated to Milan to work for the ruling Sforza clan, serving as an engineer, painter, architect, designer of court festivals and, most notably, a sculptor. The family asked da Vinci to create a magnificent 16-foot-tall equestrian statue, in bronze, to honor dynasty founder Francesco Sforza. Da Vinci worked on the project on and off for 12 years, and in 1493 a clay model was ready to display. Imminent war, however, meant repurposing the bronze earmarked for the sculpture into cannons, and the clay model was destroyed in the conflict after the ruling Sforza duke fell from power in 1499.


Who was the Woman in The Mona Lisa?

Scholars and Historians have long debated over the mysterious identity of the woman sitting in the painting. There have been numerous interpretations and speculations. The most widely accepted is that the painting is of the Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini who was the wife of a businessman, Francesco del Giocondo, and that’s the reason it's also called La Gioconda.

There have been other theories as well. Sigmund Freud suggested that the woman in the painting was Leonardo da Vinci’s mother. Another theory said that it was in fact Leonardo himself in the portrait disguising himself as a woman. People who’ve suggested these theories have made their claims but as of today, the sitter’s identity has not been confirmed.


Da Vinci Paints The Mona Lisa - History

The Mona Lisa is quite possibly the most well-known piece of painted artwork in the entire world. It was painted by the Leonardo Da Vinci, the famous Italian artist, between 1504 and 1519, and is a half body commission for a woman named Lisa Gherardini. Her husband, Francesco Del Giocondo requested the work by Da Vinci just after the turn of the century. It is perhaps the most studied piece of artwork ever known. The subject’s facial expression has brought about a source of debate for centuries, as her face remains largely enigmatic in the portrait. Originally commissioned in Italy, it is now at home in the French Republic, and hangs on display in the Louvre in Paris.

Background

The work was requested by subject’s husband, Francesco Del Giocondo. Lisa was from a well-known family known through Tuscany and Florence and married to Francesco Del Giocondo who was a very wealthy silk merchant. The work was to celebrate their home’s completion, as well as a celebration of the birth of their second son. Not until 2005 was the identity of Mona Lisa‘s subject fully understood, though years of speculation have suggested the true identity of the painting’s subject.

Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa is famous for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons, of course, for the popularity of the painting is the artist himself. Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the most recognized artist in the world. Not only was Da Vinci an artist, but he was also a scientist, inventor, and a doctor. His study of the human form came from the study of actual human cadavers.

Because of his ability to study from the actual form of the human, he was able to draw and paint it more accurately than any other artist of his time. While the Mona Lisa may be revered as the greatest piece of artwork of all time, Da Vinci was known more for his ability to draw than to paint. Currently there are only a handful of paintings of Da Vinci’s, mostly because of his largely experimental style of art, and his habit of procrastination. Among his most famous sketches is the Vitruvian Man, which anybody who has ever studied anatomy, human biology, or art knows very well.

But most prominently Da Vinci has been known throughout the centuries as a scientist and inventor. Amongst his ideas were a rudimentary helicopter and a tank. Some of his more notable paintings include the Mona Lisa, of course, as well as The Last Supper. He used a variety of different surfaces to paint on, attributing to a lot of his failures (and a lot of his successes) as a painter. Many of his paintings are biblical in nature, but as his talent and notoriety grew, he was commissioned more regularly for portraits.

Techniques Applied

The Mona Lisa is an oil painting, with a cottonwood panel as the surface. It is unusual in that most paintings are commissioned as oil on canvas, but the cottonwood panel is part of what has attributed to the fame of the painting. Because of the medium used for the image, the Mona Lisa has survived for six centuries without ever having been restored–a trait very unusual when considering the time period of the piece.

While most of the artwork of the Renaissance period depicts biblical scenes, it was the style and technique of the paintings of this period which make them distinguished from other eras of artwork. Anatomically correct features are one of the identifiable marks of this period of history in art, and the Mona Lisa stands out amongst the great paintings for the detail in her hands, eyes, and lips. Da Vinci used a shadowing technique at the corners of her lips as well as the corners of her eyes which give her an extremely lifelike appearance and look of amusement. Her portrait is such that to an observer, they are standing right before Lisa Del Giocondo, with the arms of her chair as the barrier between the observer and the subject of the painting.

Da Vinci also created a background with aerial views and a beautiful landscape, but muted from the vibrant lightness of the subject’s face and hands. The technique Da Vinci used in executing the painting left behind no visible brush marks, something that was said to make any master painter lose heart. It is truly a masterpiece.

Theft

The Mona Lisa disappeared from the Louvre in France in 1911. Pablo Picasso was on the original list of suspects questioned and jailed for the theft, but he was later exonerated. For two years, the masterpiece was thought to be forever lost. However in 1913, Italian patriot Vincenzo Perugia was arrested for the crime of stealing the famous painting, and the original artwork returned to its home at the Louvre in Paris. Perugia was an employee of the Louvre at the time, and he believed the painting belonged to Italy. For two years he kept the famous piece of art housed in his apartment, but was discovered when he tried selling to a gallery in Florence, Italy.

Vandalism

Over the centuries, the famous painting has withstood attempts at vandalism as well. The first occurrence of vandalism was in 1956 when somebody threw acid at the bottom half, severely damaging the timeless masterpiece. That same year, another vandal threw a rock at the work, removing a chip of paint from near her elbow. It was later painted over. Afterwards, the piece was put under bulletproof glass as a means of protection has kept the painting from further attempts at vandalism and destruction.

This painting has long been caricaturized in cartoons, has been replicated all over the world, and has been studied by scholars and art enthusiasts alike. The painting is the most widely recognized work of art in the entire world. The oil on cottonwood panel commission of Francesco del Giocondo’s used such precise detail to give an unbelievably lifelike appearance to the painting’s subject. This piece of Renaissance artwork completely changed the techniques and style of painting, and is revered around the world as the greatest masterpiece of all time.


The Creation of Adam

It wasn’t until 1990 that American physician Frank Lynn Meshberger noted that the shapes and figures on the side representing God also make up an anatomically accurate figure of the human brain.

The spinal cord, the cerebellum, the vertebral artery - they’re all there in some shape or form.

Michelangelo was apparently an expert in human anatomy after taking up the grisly job of dissecting corpses from a church graveyard aged just 17.

Michelangelo could have just been suggesting that our brain is an extension of God, or that God gave us intelligence.

On the other hand, he could be suggesting that God is the creation and projection of the human brain — a man-made concept.


More items to explore

Top reviews from the United States

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Surely not as prolific a painter as many others none-the-less Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the world's five most famous paintings 'The Last Supper' and 'Mona Lisa'.

This book thoughtfully presents the history, technique, and all the trivia regarding 'Mona Lisa'.

One would think that the dimentions of this colossus would be larger than 21 X 30". But thats what Leonardo chose. Why would it take him 3+ years to paint? Why would he paint it on perilously thin poplar wood? How did he achieve that divine smile?

Here is presented the answers and history of this iconic painting. From it's benign renaissance beginning through it's establishment as a masterpiece and onto it's becoming a phenomenon.

August 1911 the 'Mona Lisa' was no longer in the Louvre. "The Theft of the Century" is a most captivating chapter

The history is followed nicely by copious reproductions of the painting and it's contemporaries along with photos from 1911-2006 of events and key characters. Many modern renditions by the likes of Warhol, Dali, Dubuffet, Masson, etc. are included.

A well thought out and wonderfully presented history of this global icon. Donald Sasson is a leading expert on the 'Mona Lisa'. This edition is more user friendly (for the masses) compared to his more academic other version.


List of Leonardo da Vinci Paintings & Drawings

Leonardo da Vinci was an inspirational member of the Italian Renaissance and his portrait of The Mona Lisa was just one of a great number of impressive paintings and sketches to have come from his career, with the best listed below:

  • Mona Lisa
  • La Gioconda
  • Female Head (La Scapigliata)
  • The Virgin of the Rocks (The Virgin with the Infant St. John Adoring the Infant Christ)
  • Flying Machine
  • Archimedes Screws and Water Wheels
  • Fight Between a Dragon and a Lion
  • Annunciation 1472-7
  • Testa di Giovinetta
  • Study of Female Hand
  • Testa di Giovinetta
  • Sketch of a Roaring Lion
  • The Battle of Anghiari after Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Giant Catapult
  • Excavating Machine
  • Detail of the Angel, from the Virgin of the Rocks
  • St John the Baptist
  • Study of Drapery
  • Horse and Rider
  • Sketch of a Horse
  • The Virgin and Child

Mona Lisa is a captivating portrait by Leonardo da Vinci from the early 16th century and remains the most famous Da Vinci painting.

This is a website offering information on Leonardo Da Vinci's famous oil painting plus giving details of where you can buy your own Mona Lisa print online, from our recommended retailer, Art.com. They have many different versions of the Mona Lisa available, including framed Mona Lisa Giclee prints, stretched canvases, posters and even tapestries. Unframed prints are also available in their Mona Lisa Gallery, which you can see by clicking any of the links from this website. See also The Last Supper.

Many occasional art fans will not have much of an idea of what to go for when choosing some new art prints for their homes, but the fame of Mona Lisa means it will be a regular choice for such people. Even those with limited understanding of art history will have probably come across this classic painting at some point.

You have the opportunity to order your very own Mona Lisa prints from this website, simply click on the links provided to jump through to Art.com, where you can order art online. As an affiliate to Art.com, we make a small commission on anything that you may purchase there and this helps to pay for the maintenance of our website.

Mona Lisa is an oil painting that Leonardo Da Vinci spent many years developing and improving as he could not feel entirely satisfied with his work, but saw enough qualities to motivate him to persevere over a long period. Art lovers now fully appreciate the work, and if you are one of those then you can buy Mona Lisa prints from the links below, which take advantage of our recommended art shop which we use regularly ourselves for various different Da Vinci prints.

For those with limited budgets you may prefer posters or unframed prints of the Mona Lisa rather than the more expensive tapestries, stretched canvases and giclee art prints. They are available from the links below with very competitive prices, but this original high renaissance painting is always best as a framed work and that is what we recommend, if you can afford it.

Such is the reputation of this oil painting, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is a regular attraction for many tourists visiting the French city of Paris, where it has been on display for many years. The Louvre Museum in fact has an exceptional collection of art work in general, and visitors will quickly discover that after their initial sighting of this particular work.

Works by artists of the renaissance and baroque periods are always most suitable as framed paintings with high quality prints and that is what we offer from here. However, even a poster or unframed work can still look brilliant on the right wall, with a decent amount of space either side. When considering the right Mona Lisa print, consider your home or office that it is to go, and try to match the colour schemes as much as possible. Being a traditional style painting, a traditional frame design would be best, but also a simple black wooden frame can suit the majority of prints too. The links from this website offer many different framing options with sizes, additional card inlays and great choices of wood and metal frames available.

The Louvre is a very old and historic gallery which has been at the forefront of the art world for many centuries, with key artists and collectors even choosing to donate part or all of their own personal collections to the gallery which helps to continue it's prominence into the 21st century. There is now substantial competition from London and New York, for example, but this Parisian gallery retains it's reputation admirably.

The Mona Lisa original was worked on over an extended period by it's creator, who spent much time tweaking the finer elements of the painting. Da Vinci seemed unable to achieve a final satisfaction a so would tweak endlessly between other projects.

The Mona Lisa painting was originally an oil on poplar panel work by Da Vinci and is now owned by the Government of France and displayed at the Louvre in Paris. It is well worth a visit as there is an incredible catalogue of art to see, with Mona Lisa being one of the main attractions. For those who don't have the time or money to visit Paris to see the original, please use the links above to order your own copy and admire the great lady from your own home or office wall.

The expressions of the face of the subject of the Mona Lisa is what has left the painting with an interesting mystical feel. Lisa del Giocondo was from the wealthy Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany and the painting was an expensive commission paid for by her husband to celebrate their new child. Few paintings have been disected as frequently, by as many people or in as such detail as this.

Leonardo Da Vinci remains best known for his Mona Lisa masterpiece but many other Da Vinci prints are also well worth your interest and can complement a Mona Lisa print perfectly in:

  • Mona Lisa
  • La Gioconda
  • The Last Supper
  • The Vitruvian Man
  • Female Head (La Scapigliata)
  • The Virgin of the Rocks (The Virgin with the Infant St. John Adoring the Infant Christ)
  • Flying Machine
  • Archimedes Screws and Water Wheels
  • Fight Between a Dragon and a Lion
  • Annunciation 1472-7
  • Testa di Giovinetta
  • Study of Female Hand
  • Testa di Giovinetta
  • Sketch of a Roaring Lion
  • The Battle of Anghiari after Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Giant Catapult
  • Excavating Machine
  • Detail of the Angel, from the Virgin of the Rocks
  • St John the Baptist
  • Study of Drapery
  • Horse and Rider
  • Sketch of a Horse
  • The Virgin and Child

Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is just one of many famous oil paintings and works by Italian artists from the renaissance and baroque periods of art which are still popular and heavily studied today. Below is a helpful list of other famous Italian artists, each of which also have prints available to buy online from the links that we include above:


How long did Da Vinci paint Mona Lisa?

Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa from 1503 to 1506, but was considered incomplete by Da Vinci until 1516. Da Vinci was never paid for the painting and it never made it to it's intended client. The woman in the painting is thought to be Lisa Gherandini Giocondo who was about 25 at the time of the painting.

Secondly, who Did Leonardo Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa for? The painting was to be a portrait of Giocondo's wife, Lisa del Giocondo, which the couple intended to hang in their new home to celebrate the birth of their new son, Andrea. Leonardo began his painting in 1503 and continued his work for three years.

Beside this, did Leonardo da Vinci ever finish the Mona Lisa?

Da Vinci began the Mona Lisa in 1503 but never finished it.

How many times has the Mona Lisa been stolen?

The Mona Lisa is found once more For two years, the painting remained missing.


Watch the video: Μόνα Λίζα του Ντα Βίντσι Mona Lisa by DA Vinci