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Copy of Mona Lisa, Study

This painting was exhibited together with my copy of Mona Lisa in Delaware (2009).
I painted this painting mainly to reveal how i started the copy of Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa

(information about the original)

Mona Lisa is called ”La Gioconda” in Italian and ”La Joconde” in French.
As most people know it was painted by the famous painter Leonardo da Vinci.(da Vinci means from Vinci which was a small town where he grew up.) According to the Louvre museum Mona Lisa was painted on poplar from the year 1503-1506. Actually it was not finished in 1506. Leonardo brought Mona Lisa with him as long as he lived and finished it in 1519, the same year he died. The painting is painted in oil.
When i first saw the painting in Paris, i felt it was pretty small. It is not big but hanging in those enormous rooms as it is makes it appear even smaller than it really is. The actual size of Mona Lisa is 77 x 53 cm. My copy is about one cm smaller.

Mona Lisa was painted in the period called Italian Renaissance. At first, according to Vasari, Mona Lisa belonged to Francois 1. The royal ownership was confirmed nearly a century later by Cassiano dal Pozzo, who in 1625 saw a portrait of a woman at Fontainebleau and identifided her as ”a certain Gioconda.” The subsequent history of the Mona Lisa is relatively uncomplicated: the French king bought the painting for 4,000 écus and kept it at Fontainebleau where it remained until given to Louis XIV. Louis XIV moved the Mona Lisa to the Palace of Versailles. After the French revolution, it was moved to the Louvre in Paris. Napoleon 1 had it moved to his bedroom in the Tuileries Palace, later it was returned to the Louvre. (according to wikipedia)
Mona Lisa is now owned by the French government and might be the most valuable painting ever, and ofcourse the most popular also. Prior to the 1962–1963 tour, the painting was assessed for insurance purposes at $100 million. I would guess that the insurance purposes now is close to doubled.

The Mona Lisa is now covered with layers of dirt and varnish that disguise an incredible delicacy, transparency, and luminosity. One dares not clean the portrait of Mona Lisa for fear of damaging it, so that only by means of infra-red photography can we get some small idea of the original lightness of touch with which Leonardo executed it, of the richness of his modeling, of the most subtle gradations of light and shadow, and of the inimitable treatment of surfaces that creates the illusion of an atmospheric veil around the face. These qualities have contributed to the paintings continuing fascination.

Mona Lisa was not well known until the mid-19th century when artists of the emerging Symbolist movement began to appreciate it, and associated it with their ideas about feminine mystique. Critic,Walter Pater in his 1867 essay on Leonardo, expressed this view by describing the figure in the painting as a kind of mythic embodiment of eternal femininity, who is "older than the rocks among which she sits" and who "has been dead many times and learned the secrets of the grave." (quote wikipedia, thanks for good information..)

Mona Lisa, The Model behind this famous portrait

Mona Lisa is a portrait of a Florentine woman called Lisa del Giocondo, a member of the Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany and the wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo. The Mona Lisa was commissioned for their new home and to celebrate the birth of their second son, Andrea.
The painting's title ”Mona” in the Mona Lisa stems from the short form of madonna and is often spelled Monna. The title is therefore sometimes Monna Lisa
When Leonardo da Vinci died in may 1519 his assistant Salai owned the Mona Lisa. At that time Mona Lisa was called ”la Gioconda” which in Italian means happy and jovial. In French the title La Joconde also has a double meaning.

Theft and vandalism of Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa painting now hangs in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France. The painting's increasing fame was further emphasized when it was stolen in August 21, 1911. The next day, Louis Béroud, a painter, walked into the Louvre and went to the Salon Carré where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years. However, where the Mona Lisa should have stood, he found four iron pegs. Béroud contacted the section head of the guards, who thought the painting was being photographed for marketing purposes. A few hours later, Béroud checked back with the section head of the museum, and it was confirmed that the Mona Lisa was not with the photographers. The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid in investigation of the theft.
French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire tried to implicate his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.
At the time, Mona Lisa was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed Leonardo´s painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After having kept the Mona Lisa in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.
During World War II, the Mona Lisa was again removed from the Louvre and taken safely, first to Château d'Amboise, then to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and finally to the Ingres Museum in Montauban. In 1956, the lower part of the Mona Lisa was severely damaged when a vandal doused the painting with acid. On December 30 of that same year, Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a young Bolivian, damaged the Mona Lisa by throwing a rock at it. This resulted in the loss of a speck of pigment near the left elbow, which was later painted over.(quote Wikipedia)

Speculation about the Mona Lisa

Some speculators have meant that Mona Lisa might be Leonardo himself, only painted as a woman. When i was i Louvre for the first time, a guide talked about Mona Lisa and had ideas about that the portrait at first was painted with beard. There has also been speculation about the original size of the Mona Lisa, and if it has existed other versions of it, and a lot of other speculations.

When i friend of mine was in Paris many years ago, he tried to fool me by telling a funny story about Mona Lisa. He told me that when he was watching Mona Lisa from a distanse she twinkled at him. It was a good story but i ofcourse never believed him. A true story is that when you are watching Mona Lisa the painting or even just a photo of the painting, you will get the feeling that her face expressions are changing. That might one of the main reason why Mona Lisa still is the most famous painting ever made.
Mona Lisa is the painting that has been and might also be the most speculated painting ever.
If you want to learn even more about the famous Mona Lisa, you can find a lot of books and websites on this topic

Digital photo of Mona Lisa, the original

mona lisa original