Mona Lisa – 10 Little -Known Facts May 7, 2019
1. “Mona Lisa” Is Not Her Name
Her name, Mona Lisa, means ‘My Lady Lisa’. But she is thought to actually be Lisa Gherardini, whose husband, Francesco del Giocondo, commissioned the work in 1503. This may explain the less prevalent title for the painting, La Gioconda.
2. Napoleon ‘Loved’ Her
The French emperor once had Mona Lisa hanging in his bedroom in the Tuileries Palace for about four years. It’s said his fascination with the painting inspired his affection for Teresa Guadagni, who was actually a descendant of Lisa Gherardini.
3. She’s Much Smaller Than You Think
Mona Lisa, an oil-on-wood-panel painting, measures just 30 inches by 21 inches, and weighs 18 pounds.
4. Her Eyebrows Are ‘Debatable’
Some say her ‘missing’ eyebrows is representative of the high-class fashion of the time. Others insist it proves that Mona Lisa is an unfinished masterpiece. But a digital scan done in 2007 revealed that da Vinci had, in fact, painted eyebrows, as well as much ‘bolder’ eyelashes. Perhaps, they had simply faded over time, or had fallen victim to years of restoration work. And, by the way, Leonardo da Vinci, died in 1519, before completing the portrait.
5. She Gets Fan Mail
Our of the more than one million artworks in the Louvre collection, only Mona Lisa has her own mailbox, to accommodate all the love letters she regularly receives.
6. A ‘Priceless’ Woman
In the 1960s, the painting went on a tour, for which it was given an insurance valuation of $100 million. Factoring in inflation, it had an estimated worth $2.5 billion.
8. Angry People Have Lashed Out At Her
In 1956, an angry viewer pitched acid at the painting, which hit the lower section. If you look closely at her left elbow, you might notice the damage done by Ugo Ungaza Villegas who, months later, chucked a rock at the portrait. These attacks led to the painting being encased in bulletproof glass. In 2009, this protection stopped a ceramic mug, hurled by an enraged Russian woman who’d been denied French citizenship.
9. She Was Once Stolen
Louvre employee, Vincenzo Peruggia, smuggled the Mona Lisa out under his smock, because he felt she belonged to Italy, not France. He was later caught trying to sell it to a Florence art dealer.
10. She Inspired a Fashion Trend
In her book, Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, Dianne Hales wrote “Society women adopted the ‘La Joconde’ look (the painting’s French title), dusting yellow powder on their faces and necks to suggest her golden complexion, and immobilizing their facial muscles to mimic her smile.” The Mona Lisa had left the Louvre as a work of art; she returned as a public property, the first mass ‘art icon’.
Click here to learn more about this famous painting.