#FridayPainting: Leonardo da Vinci “The Mona Lisa”

“A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa, but people still line up to see the original.” Louis Armstrong

Ah, the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, is the quintessential archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. The world has embraced this image as the most valuable, not only in terms of monetary value, although that cannot be discounted, but because it represents a story.

Why is the Mona Lisa painting so famous? Is it because of the beauty and artistic value, the enigmatic expression, the hand placement, or the unusual background? Mona Lisa’s eyes seem to follow the viewer wherever they may be standing, thanks to Leonardo da Vinci’s use of light and shadow. There is a personal connection, even though the painting is a mere 30 inches by 21 inches (77 cm by 53 cm).

There are some scholars who believe that external events contributed to the Mona Lisa’s fame. After all, it is housed in the Louvre, one of the the most visited museums in the world. How the painting made the trip from Italy to France adds more mystery to the lovely portrait of Mona Lisa aka Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco Giocondo. And then there was the famous heist in 1911. Many thought that Pablo Picasso or the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire had somehow been involved in the matter.

Whatever the reason, the Mona Lisa is the most recognized, the most visited, the most discussed, the most written about work of art in the world.

The Mona Lisa, to me, is the greatest emotional painting ever done. The way the smile flickers makes it a work of both art and science, because Leonardo understood optics, and the muscles of the lips, and how light strikes the eye – all of it goes into making the Mona Lisa’s smile so mysterious and elusive.” Walter Isaacson

And in more Mona Lisa News, the Louvre has introduced “The Mona Lisa in virtual reality in your own home.”