Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mona Lisa

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Iconic. Indubitable. Inspirational. These words could describe the artist Leonardo da Vinci or his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, or both. It is arguably the best-known painting in the world “attracting six-million visitors a year.” The eccentric artist, curious history, unprecedented style, and ever-changing context of the Mona Lisa are as intriguing as her mysterious smile. Leonardo da Vinci was born illegitimately to a peasant woman in 1452 in “Vinci in the Tuscan country side, thirty miles from Florence, Italy.” Circumstances like these could certainly lead to a life of poverty and hardship. However, these very circumstances seemed to make Leonardo into one of the great minds in the Renaissance period. Leonardo’s father was from a prominent …show more content…
The history of this painting is obscure but there are some clues as to its origination. The sitter is assumed to be Lisa Gioconda, the wife of a Florence merchant. “In all likelihood it was started in 1503. We do not know when it was finished, but, as with many of his commissions, Leonardo never handed it over to Mrs. Gioconda or to her husband.” It is mentioned by Vasari who states that after Leonardo was “working on it for four years, he left it unfinished.” Another account by “Cassianno dal Pozzo, who in 1625 saw a portrait of a women at Fontainebleau and identified her as ‘a certain Gioconda’.” The painting is believed to have stayed in Leonardo’s possession until his death in France in 1519. King Francois I “paid a considerable sum for it” and thus Mona Lisa became a part of the French Royal Collection. In 1792 the French monarchy was abolished and the Royal Collection “became the common property of the citizens of France.” It was moved to the new public museum in the ancient palace of the Louvre in 1797. But only two years later Napoleon staged a coup and took power. It was said that he was “enraptured with the Mona Lisa… and had it placed in his bedroom in the Tuileries Palace… for the next four years.” It was moved back to the Louvre in 1815 where it stayed for the next century until a fateful day in August of 1911. Vincenzo Perruggia was a Louvre “glazier who had constructed Mona Lisa’s controversial glass enclosed frame.” He came into the Louvre on a Monday (a day the museum was closed to the public) dressed in a maintenance staff white smock. He removed the painting from the wall, slipped it under his coat and left “with the greatest nonchalance.” He held the painting for more than two years until he offered it to sale which led to the painting being recovered and returned to the Louvre in 1914 where it remains

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