Mona Lisa was Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting, and probably the most famous painting in the history of art. When Leonardo da Vinci was 52 years old, he left Milan, and went back to Florence, where he painted his famous Mona Lisa from 1503 to 1506. The painting has been in the Louvre museum, in Paris, France since 1804. Six million visitors to the museum see it every year.
The painting, thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine silk merchant. is in oil on a white poplar panel. It is said that while he was painting her, Leonardo invited musicians, clowns and people who read poetry to keep her happy. Maybe this is how he captured her enigmatic smile.
The painting we see today is very different from the original, because it was painted more than 500 years ago. The colors have faded and have small cracks. Nobody really knows who Mona Lisa was, there are many theories, but the truth is that Leonardo never sold it. He kept it until until the day of his death.
The king of France bought Mona Lisa after Leonardo died. The picture belonged to the kings until the French Revolution; after that it was moved to the Louvre museum. Being so famous is not that easy; Mona Lisa was attacked many times, she was sprayed with acid, and was even stolen. Today she is in a special temperature behind a bulletproof glass.
In 2010 Scientists discovered how the artist managed to achieve his trademark smoky effect, known as sfumato, on the painting. Leonardo did it by applying up to 40 layers of extremely thin glaze thought to have been smeared on with his fingers.
The glaze, mixed with slightly different pigments, creates the slight blurring and shadows around the mouth that give the Mona Lisa her hardly noticeable smile that seems to disappear when looked at directly.
Using X-rays to study the painting, the researchers were able to see how the layers of glaze and paint were built up to varying levels on different areas of the face. Because the drying times for the glaze take months, such effects probably took years to achieve.
The scientists also suspect that he used his fingers to apply the glaze to his paintings because there are no brush marks or contours visible on the paintings.