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The ‘Mona Lisa’, also known as ‘La Gioconda, is a 16th century masterpiece, oil on a poplar wood panel, created by Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting is the portrait of a woman whose mesmerizing gaze and captivating expression have lured millions of tourists, art professionals, and students every year, for centuries. Leonardo Da Vinci began the creation of the ‘Mona Lisa’ in 1503, and after leaving it unfinished for four years, it is believed that he completed it after his move to France. The portrait is arguably the most famous painting in the world.
Who was ‘Mona Lisa’?
It is doubtful that any other painting in history has received as much analysis, study, and mythological inquests as the ‘Mona Lisa’. Such scrutiny resulted in a probable theory. The model for the work is Lisa del Giocondo, wife of Francesco Giocondo, a successful silk merchant. It is believed that the painting was commissioned by the husband in celebration of the couple’s new home and the birth of their second son Andrea. However, the painting never belonged to the Giocondo family.
Theft and Vandalism
The ‘Mona Lisa’s notoriety augmented when on August 21, 1911, the painting was stolen from the Musée du Louvre in Paris. It would be two years before the painting would resurface in Italy. The thief Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian patriot, stole the painting believing that, as Leonardo Da Vinci was born in Italy, it should be hung in an Italian museum. After keeping it in his apartment for two years, Peruggia was apprehended while attempting to sell it to the director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. In 1913, ‘La Gioconda’ was returned to the Musée du Louvre.
In 1956, a tourist damaged a lower portion of the painting by splashing acid on it. In December of the same year, another person threw a rock at the painting, causing a loss of pigment in the left elbow. Thereafter, the painting was encased in bullet proof glass.
What is its worth?
Before the ‘Mona Lisa’ toured in 1962-1963, the painting was assessed for insurance purposes at $100 million. It is estimated, taking inflation into account, that $100 million in 1962 is equivalent to approximatly $670 million in 2006.
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