In the early 1500s the great artist Leonardo da Vinci produced what is widely regarded as the greatest painting ever produced; the Mona Lisa. This painting which can be seen at the Louvre in Paris draws over 6 million tourists per year. On this page are lists of facts about this amazing painting. This information, written for kids and adults, includes a short description of the painting, who Mona Lisa is believed to be, what steps have been taken to preserve this work of art, and why this portrait is considered so great and important.
Mona Lisa Description
The famous Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci created this masterpiece sometime between 1503 and 1519.
This painting is a portrait of the upper half of a woman with a landscape in the background.
The Mona Lisa is an oil painting on a poplar wood panel, a common wood used for paintings by Renaissance painters.
It is a matter of debate as to who the subject of the portrait is. Perhaps the most widely accepted theory is that the subject is Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant. However other theories include that it is Leonardo's mother or the artist himself.
Interesting Facts about the Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci used techniques in this painting which revolutionized portrait painting. These techniques included sfumato (English translation soft) which is shading that creates a subtle transition between colors.
The woman in the painting is looking at the person viewing with a soft smile which was not at all common prior to this painting.
The famous Renaissance artist Raphael studied the Mona Lisa and actually sketched the painting while it was still a work in progress. He used the same style for his
famous painting, Portrait of Maddalena Doni.
Many people question how the Mona Lisa ended up in the Louvre in Paris France. The famous painting was sold to King Francis I of France by the artist assistant who inherited it after Leonardo's death in 1519. It was first kept at the Palace at Fontainebleau then at the Palace of Versailles, and then moved to the Louvre after the French Revolution.
In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. Two years later it was recovered and Vincenzo Peruggia, a handyman at the Louvre, was arrested for the theft.
France has loaned this famous painting to be displayed in numerous countries. This includes Russia, Japan, and the United States.
Preservation of the Mona Lisa
Several actions have been taken throughout the years to help preserve this masterpiece including an oak frame to prevent warping and actions to stop a crack from getting larger.
The back of the panel on which the Mona Lisa is painted has been treated a few times for insect infestation.
The painting is protected behind bulletproof glass.
The painting is displayed in a special enclosure that regulates the climate and lighting designed to protect the painting.