The Mona Lisa was commissioned by a wealthy merchant and silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo, whose wife, Lisa Gherardini, is believed to be the subject of the painting. It is thought that Francesco del Giocondo commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to create the portrait of his wife, Lisa, which eventually became the famous Mona Lisa. The painting’s name, “Mona Lisa,” is derived from “Monna Lisa,” which means “Lady Lisa” in Italian.
Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in the early 16th century, around 1503 or 1504, and he continued to work on it for several years. It’s believed that he worked on the painting for approximately four to five years before considering it complete, making the estimated completion year around 1506 or 1507.
There is no definitive record of the exact number of revisions or alterations Leonardo da Vinci made to the Mona Lisa during its creation.
However, it is known that he made many changes and refinements to the painting over the course of several years. Leonardo was known for his meticulous attention to detail, and he continued to work on the Mona Lisa even after its initial completion, making adjustments to achieve the final masterpiece we know today.
The exact number of revisions remains a subject of speculation among art historians. Isaacson in his book on Da Vinci gives several explanations which gives us the idea that the Mona Lisa was Da Vinci prize possession and he never thought it was complete.
Napoleon Bonaparte did have the Mona Lisa in his possession for a short period. He displayed it in the Louvre Museum in Paris after it was moved there from the Palace of Versailles in 1797. The painting was part of the Louvre’s collection for several years. It wasn’t until 1804, when Napoleon declared himself Emperor of the French, that the Mona Lisa was briefly displayed in his bedroom at the Tuileries Palace. However, it didn’t remain there for long, as it was returned to the Louvre in 1805. So, the Mona Lisa was only briefly hung in Napoleon’s bedroom for about a year.
The Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911. The famous theft occurred on August 21, 1911, when an Italian handyman named Vincenzo Peruggia stole the painting from the Louvre Museum in Paris. Peruggia concealed the painting under his clothing and managed to hide it in his apartment for over two years.
The Mona Lisa was recovered in December 1913 when Peruggia attempted to sell it to an art dealer in Florence, Italy. After its recovery, the painting was returned to the Louvre.
There have been a few instances of vandalism involving the Mona Lisa, but none of them resulted in significant damage to the painting. The most notable incident occurred in 1956 when someone threw acid at the painting, causing minor damage to the lower part of the artwork. Skilled restorers were able to repair the damage.
Most recent was a cake but the Mona Lisa is behind a glass and the cake didn’t harm the artwork.
I get asked what would be the value of Mona Lisa if it came to auction today often. It’s challenging to assign a precise monetary value to the Mona Lisa because it is considered priceless. Instead, its value is considered immeasurable due to its historical significance, artistic importance, and cultural prominence.
However, if one were to attempt to estimate its value for insurance purposes, it would likely be in the billions of dollars. Its value, though, extends far beyond mere financial considerations, as it is considered one of the most famous and treasured artworks in history.
Over the centuries, the Mona Lisa has become one of the most famous and iconic paintings in the world. Leonardo’s connection to this masterpiece undoubtedly contributed to his love and appreciation for it. Leonardo was a true Renaissance polymath who was constantly pushing the boundaries of knowledge and artistic expression. The Mona Lisa allowed him to experiment with techniques like sfumato meaning blending of colors and tones and achieve a level of realism that fascinated him.
Da Vinci’s love for the Mona Lisa can be understood as a combination of artistic challenge, personal connection, dedication, and the painting’s eventual iconic status, which collectively made it a work of profound significance to him.