Rare Facts About The Mona Lisa

By | November 11, 2022

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Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. (Louvre Museum/Wikimedia Commons)

Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous work of art on the planet, was painted by polymath Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, Italy from 1503 to roughly 1506, though opinions of art historians differ on when he truly considered the work done. Her confident gaze and sly smile (painted with the sfumato technique, without hard lines) captured so much of what made the Renaissance such a breakthrough era in regard to science and art.  

It's One Expensive Painting

Mona Lisa is unlikely to be sold anytime soon, having mostly remained safe and secure at the Louvre Museum since its arrival in 1804, but in 1962, an insurance evaluation priced it at a whopping $100 million, roughly $840 million today. Would anybody actually pay that price? Quite possibly! The most expensive painting ever sold was another Da Vinci piece, Salvator Mundi, which netted a smooth $450 million from a Saudi prince in 2017.

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Profile drawing of Isabella d'Este by Da Vinci. (Louvre Museum/Wikimedia Commons)

The Model Was A Noblewoman

For centuries, the identity of the woman depicted in Mona Lisa was open to speculation and conspiracy theories. Some believed the model was a famous patron named Isabella d'Este, who Da Vinci had also drawn, or even a feminine take on Leonardo himself. In 2005, however, a historian found a 500-year-old note written in the margin of a book that identified the woman as Lisa del Giocondo. It wasn't a total shock: Based on her name and other writings of the time, she'd been a well-known candidate for years.

It Used To Belong To Napoleon

In 1800, Napoleon ordered the painting removed from the Louvre and taken to his residence. He even went so far as to hang the portrait in his own private bedroom, but it was a short stay in Bonaparte's boudoir for La Gioconda, as he was crowned Emperor of France only four years later and thought it best to return the iconic masterpiece to the people.