All About Leonardo Da Vinci’s Portrait: Mona Lisa

A Brief History of Portraits Painting

There used to be a time when only the richest of the rich had their portraits made. It was unthinkable for a commoner to get him/herself captured onto a canvass. No matter how hard it is for us to imagine this with the technological advancements of today, it was quite normal, back in the Renaissance period, for wealthy Florentine traders to hire an artist to have him paint a glorious portrait of themselves for very large sums of money. Even these merchants would most likely get their portraits painted only once in their entire lifetimes. Back then, having a portrait of yourself made symbolized exalted social status. It was a luxury only the elite could enjoy. On top of that, it took the artists quite a lengthy while to finish painting a portrait so, the subject (the one being captured in the painting) had to hold a steady pose for hours, even days at times.

‘Mona Lisa’: The World’s Most Popular Portrait

Leonardo Da Vinci Famous Italian Painter painted Mona Lisa on a wooden panel with oil paints. If not THE most famous, it is indeed one of the most famous paintings of the world.

You can buy the Master Reproduction of Mona Lisa painting here.

The Making of Mona Lisa

Leonardo finished painting Mona Lisa somewhere in between 1503 to 1506. At this time in history, He was living in Florence, Italy. The iconic painting can now be found hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris which is the Mecca of the art world, with this painting being the sole object of the artistic pilgrimage. In 1970, the wooden panel was worked upon and made steady with the introduction of a few supportive braces, having previously been treated with the addition of a frame made of oak wood back in 1951. And also a tiny crack close to the centre of the top edge of the portrait was cleared by adding a dovetail joint.

The Smile of Mona Lisa: The Mystery Behind It

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was intended to be a normal portrait of a Florentine merchant’s wife but, over the years, it has become very significant and is now looked upon as the greatest single symbol of the Renaissance period and also the most widely known painting in the entire world. The Portrait takes its meaning from the unresolved mystery of the subject’s smile. Her smile and her tender gaze was indeed meant for her husband to see but, due to unknown reasons, the painting couldn’t ever be delivered to its rightful owner. Da Vinci carried it with him when he visited Francis The First (the King of France at that time) to work for him.

The Eternal Influence of The Mona Lisa

This miraculous work of Leonardo’s, issuing an intense blend between the subject and the background, set a bench mark for all portraits works to be done in the future.

Who Was the Woman in The Mona Lisa

After a discovery made in 21st century, the woman in the portrait was revealed to be Lisa del Giocondo nee Gherardini. She was the spouse of a wealthy merchant from Florence, Italy, named Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo (thus the portraits other title being ‘La Gioconda’). This famous painting is a traditional portrait painted in half-body. It features a sitter in the foreground and faraway landscape in the back. But, unfortunately, this dissection of the painting’s composition would not do. We would have to go to greater lengths than this to develop a better understanding of The Mona Lisa, Leonardo’s greatest work.

What Technique Did Leonardo Da Vinci Use With Mona Lisa Painting

Leonardo implies the use of some very fine shading to establish the exquisite detail of this portrait. Lisa’s provocative curves and the delicate locks of her hair are further exaggerated by the land forms in the background (the rivers and valleys). The subtlety of the subject’s dull, mysterious smile is the final stroke upon Leonardo’s masterpiece. Lisa’s smile is what makes The Mona Lisa what it is. It speaks of the artists’ metaphysical dispositions; of what he believed to be a heavenly link between nature and humankind, preserving this portrait as an everlasting documentation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s broad horizon.

Have a look at Master Piece Reproductions of Da Vinci.

Mona Lisa and Maddalena Doni


The Mona Lisa has had a great influence upon the Renaissance era (and upon further epochs to come). It revolutionized the art of portrait painting for the entire world. Da Vinci’s early works motivated his students and contemporaries and provided them with the food for freer thinking before attempting to make paintings of their own. The growing popularity of these drawings of his among artists made wealthy art lovers of the time collect them. His popularity and exalted reputation as an artist and a revolutionary thinker had quite an influence on his fellow artists. Similar to Leonardo’s own, it encouraged freedom of thought and action. A quotable example: Raphael, the impressionable yet talented artist who loved to sketch Leonardo’s works, took the Mona Lisa’s composition and made it the base of all his future portraits. One such example being Raphael’s portrait of ‘Maddalena Doni’.

Reanimating the Classic

The world has seen, at the very least, a dozen masterfully painted replicas of the Mona Lisa till now. This replication of the iconic portrait projects the sitter’s embodiment of the perfect woman, containing all elements that form one ideal female: beauty, depth and all.mona_lisa_200-3de6813d39fb781c383befc954b7eceeae67ec77-s6-c30

This ideal woman has become quite a cult figure in the popular culture of both old and recent times. Her exalted, symbolic status was first made fun of in the 20th century. A mustache and beard were added to her face in a mocking postcard representation of the Mona Lisa in 1919. The trending art movement of ‘Dadaism’ had to its belt this shameless defilement of this greatest of all portrait paintings. The Dadaist expressed their contempt for the so called “masterpieces of the past” which, according to them, were a part of the civilization that went on and brought great wars (including the first world war) upon the world. In 1963, the portrait was also targeted by Andy Warhol, the famous visual artists from America, in pop art re-presentation of the original work.

The Mona Lisa Lives on

Leonardo’s famous portrait has inspired many works of art over the years. Lisa’s mysterious personality and her oddities were studied by Max Von Schillings in 1915 and translated into an opera performance. The Mona Lisa has also stimulated the very popular American lyricist Ray Evans and songwriter Jay Harold Livingston to write the classic song “Mona Lisa”. In 1950, the song was recorded by the vocalist and jazz pianist Nat King Cole. Natalie, Cole’s daughter, rerecorded this song alongside many other artists. Many films have been made and novels written linked to the painting. For example: William Gibson’s novel ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive and ‘Mona Lisa Smiled a Little by Rachel Wyatts, also the film Mona Lisa (1986).

The Mona Lisa lives on in both art and popular culture even five centuries after its creation. The the face of the Florentine merchant’s wife you can spot on tee-shirts, walls, clothes etc these days. It is perhaps the most reproduced image in mankind’s history.

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