Why is the Mona Lisa so famous today? It was painted by the great Leonardo de Vinci, the Italian Renaissance artist. The artist commenced painting it in 1503, but didn’t complete it until 1519, shortly before his death. The reasons behind the overwhelming popularity that the paining has are various, and they trace back to different periods in time.
The Artist and the Work
In many ways, the fame of the Mona Lisa is intrinsically linked to the fame of its creator. Leonardo da Vinci was a visionary as well as a mystical persona with eccentric working methods. It is known that Leonardo used to carry the paining with him wherever he went.
When he moved from Florence to Paris in 1516, he showcased the painting to obtain commissions. Thus, the Mona Lisa soon became a symbol of the artist and his style of paining. The work itself was also revolutionary. It embodies the artist’s innovative style of painting a portrait from the waist up. The Mona Lisa quickly became an inspiration to many artists, as an innovation in painting style.
The painting is very well known for its enigmatic quality. The smile expressed on the woman’s face has an ambiguous quality and this gives the face a mysterious expression. The mystery is heightened by the unconfirmed identity of the woman in the painting. The art world largely agrees that the model for the painting was the wife of a wealthy silk merchant, Francesco del Giocondo. However, there are many other intriguing theories, like the one that the woman is a skewed portrait of the artist himself.
Royal Possession and the Notorious Theft
The painting was sold to the French King for thousands of gold crowns. Since then it became a royal possession, fawned over by royalty for centuries. It became famous as a symbol of prestige and wealth. After the end of Napoleon’s reign, the painting was moved to the Louvre museum in Paris, and has been under the ownership of the French government ever since.
However, there was an unexpected turbulence in the painting’s history. It was stolen in 1911, by an Italian employee of the museum. This caused a public uproar, and the image of Mona Lisa was posted on street corners and thus became known to all social circles. Artists, painters and musician of all kinds paid tribute to the Mona Lisa in their works. It was then returned to the Louvre museum, where it can be seen today.
The Modernist Movement
The modernist art movements that developed in the early 20th century gave a new outlook on the canonical work. Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol are among numerous artists who used the image of Mona Lisa in their works. The modernist artists adopted it as a symbol of the merge of high and low art. Today, the Mona Lisa continues to feature in various artistic productions. It is so famous that academic circles now argue the question of whether the painting is actually famous for being famous.