The Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 16th century, must be one of the most famous paintings in the world.
I was very fortunate to see it in the Louvre back in 2004. However it is extremely difficult to photograph this painting. There are literally 100’s of people queuing to view the painting and to photograph it. The people in front of you and the reflection in the glass make it very difficult to take a good picture.
The painting is behind an armoured glass box. What you eventually do is to hold your camera above your head and hope for the best. But don’t let me discourage you from seeing it. It is definitely worth it!! Secretly I wish I could sit in front of this painting and just admire it for 30 minutes – without any interruptions off course.
I am still curious to know who the mystery lady in the painting is. Was her name really Mona Lisa? I decided to read up about it and this is what I have found.
The Louvre, where the painting resides, endorses the theory that the woman in the portrait was a model by the name of Lisa Gherardini. She was the wife of a Florentine merchant. Interesting that the Louvre questions the exact identity and the sitter remains unclear. If the lady in the paining is Lisa Gherardini, why did Da Vinci take the painting with him to France and not give it to the family? Maybe he wasn’t paid for the work or maybe he wanted to keep it? It remains a mystery.
- But there are also other theories like the one by Lilian Schwartz who believes that the Mona Lisa is actually a portrait of Da Vinci himself. She maintains that the features in the painting align perfectly with Da Vinci’s self-portrait. In fact critics agree, but they argue it is because they were painted by the same person.
- There is a 3rd theory which argues that the woman was in fact the mother of Da Vinci. You can read all about it in the book “Mysteries of the Mona Lisa”.
- The 4th theory argues that the woman is Isabella of Aragon, the Duchess of Milan. There are many portraits of the Duchess and they do bear a resemblance to the Mona Lisa.
As you can see there are many theories and I still don’t have a concrete answer. I think I would go with the theory of the Louvre. They are should know best, shouldn’t they?
- It was stolen by an employee in 1911. He walked out with it underneath his coat and it was gone for almost 2 years before being found. He was an Italian patriot who believed the painting belongs in Italy.
- The painting is behind glass and the reason for this is because a vandal in 1956 severely damaged the painting when he threw acid over the bottom part.
- In 1974 a disabled woman sprayed red paint at the painting because she was unhappy about the museum’s policy for disabled people. The painting was on display at a museum in Tokyo at the time.
- In 2009 a Russian woman threw a terracotta cup at the painting because she was denied French citizenship. In the last two cases the painting was unharmed.
- The original frame was removed at some point.
To conclude, nothing can describe the feeling when you see the Mona Lisa with your own eyes!