Without a doubt, the Mona Lisa is one of the most popular and enigmatic creations in the history of art. Proudly mounted inside the Louvre Museum in Paris, Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of this woman with a mysterious, inexplicable smile, has had many myths and stories surrounding it. People have tried to dissect the smile that Mona Lisa wears on her lips, making this a timeless piece with countless interpretations and deductions. As they say, there is more than what meets the eye and that sure is true for this painting of da Vinci, one of the most prolific artists of the Renaissance period. Read on to know some of the quirky, lesser-known facts about Mona Lisa.
Mona Lisa is not the actual name of the lady in that portrait
It is widely believed that the lady in the painting is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo, a moderately successful cloth and silk merchant. He is said to have commissioned the painting to Da Vinci in 1503 as a celebration for their new home and the birth of their second son. The name of the painting is “La Gioconda” in Italian or “La Joconde” in French.
Leonardo da Vinci did not finish the painting
Leonardo da Vinci is arguably best known for this famous painting. However, he passed away in the year 1519 before it was completed. In fact, it was his assistant, Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, better known as Salaì, who took over the task of finishing it, along with many other paintings.
Several attempts have been made to deface Mona Lisa
In 1956, a man tried to throw acid at the Mona Lisa. Luckily, it only reached the lower section of the painting. Later in the same year, a Bolivian tourist named Ugo Ungaza Villegas threw a rock at the portrait which caused damage close to the left elbow of the lady in the portrait. Fortunately, with more advanced security now, the painting has remained untouched.
Mona Lisa rests inside a bullet-proof glass structure
The painting rests in the Louvre’s Grand Gallery, with heavy security protection hidden around in the museum. For additional security, it is placed inside a bulletproof glass structure in order to ensure that no one can harm or deface it. Interestingly, the temperature of the Grand Gallery is controlled to preserve it in the best possible condition.
Pablo Picasso is rumoured to have stolen Mona Lisa
The entire nation of France mourned when Mona Lisa was reportedly stolen from the Louvre Museum in 1911. Famous painter Pablo Picasso was among one of the prime suspects. The real thief, however, was caught in 1913. An Italian immigrant named Vincenzo Peruggia had stolen it from the Louvre when he worked there for a brief period of time.