The Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, holds a special place in my heart.
Although I don't buy into the theories about her secret smile, there's a story that made me fall in love with this iconic painting. In Melanie La'Brooy's chick-lit novel "Lovestruck," a caller describes the Mona Lisa as this.
Quote…. "yeah, it's an oil painting. It's of a woman. She's not a real good look; looks like she's been hit with a spade, in fact. She's wearing a green dress, and it's a bit brown in the background. There are some hills and things behind her. She's got long brown hair and kind of a tight-arse expression on her face like she needs a good root." End of quote
This description struck me as exceptionally funny that the caller unknowingly described the Mona Lisa herself.
However, my humour may be just as warped as the author's. Nevertheless, this humorous encounter grounded the painting for me, making it relatable and tangible. I'm not suggesting the picture is a joke or lacks artistic merit, but instead that I could envision the description reflecting the perception of the sitter during the time it was painted and perhaps even how some people still see her today—primarily those who may not share the same appreciation for classical art. After all, her gaze does exude a certain level of restraint.
Considered the most famous painting in art history, the Mona Lisa continues to inspire reproductions, parodies, and scientific theories. Created between 1503 and 1506, it's widely believed to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, a married woman in her mid-twenties. However, an intriguing rumour suggests that the painting is a secret self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci himself, disguised as a woman.
While the notion of viral marketing didn't exist in Leonardo's time, the idea that he showcased the painting as his best work everywhere he went, ingraining it in the public's minds, is an intriguing concept that is easy to imagine.
Various rumours and mysteries surround the Mona Lisa, including the debate over her missing eyebrows. Some claim they were accidentally removed during a restoration, but it's more likely that they were never present in the first place, given the time's fashion. The painting's journey to its current home in France is also captivating.
Acquired by French King Francois I, it embarked on a tour of Italy, the United States, Moscow, and Japan, captivating audiences. Today, it resides in the Louvre's Salle de Etats, shielded by layers of bulletproof glass. Visitors often catch only a fleeting glimpse of this petite artwork, as the queues are perpetually long and movement is continuous. It never fails to surprise viewers with its size, considering Leonardo's ability to carry it around in his man bag.
With dimensions of 30" in height by 20 7/8" in width (77cm by 53 cm), it's worth noting that the painting was originally larger. It was cut from its frame during one of its thefts, resulting in a reduced size. The Mona Lisa has transcended into a universal culture, appearing in advertising campaigns and inspiring countless kitsch reproductions. Its influence has expanded even further with the advent of the Internet.
Regarded as priceless and invaluable, it remains uninsured due to its immeasurable worth. This isn't surprising, given the successful theft attempts it has endured.
The Mona Lisa will forever captivate and haunt many with its enduring mysteries, which are unlikely ever to be fully revealed. It tempts the imagination and sparks creativity. I've been entertaining the idea of creating my version, and I invite others to join me in this artistic endeavour. Let's pay homage to the timeless allure of the Mona Lisa and explore the depths of our interpretations.
Check out my list of other famous paintings
Posted: Sunday 24 January 2010