Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda or La Joconde) is a 16th-century portrait painted in oil on a poplar panel by Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci during the Renaissance in Florence, Italy. The work is currently owned by the Government of France and is on display at the Musée du Louvre in Paris under the title Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo.
The painting is a half-length portrait and depicts a seated woman (it is almost unanimous that she is Lisa del Giocondo) whose facial expression is frequently described as enigmatic. The ambiguity of the subject's expression, the monumentality of the composition, and the subtle modeling of forms and atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the continuing fascination and study of the work.The image is so widely recognized, caricatured, and sought out by visitors to the Louvre that it is considered the most famous painting in the world.HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-3"HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-4"
Leonardo Da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in Italy.According to Da Vinci's contemporary, Giorgio Vasari, "...after he had lingered over it four years, left it unfinished...." It is known that such behavior is common in most paintings of Leonardo who, later in his life, regretted "never having completed a single work".
He is thought to have continued to work on Mona Lisa for three years after he moved to France and to have finished it shortly before he died in 1519. Leonardo took the painting from Italy to France in 1516 when King François I invited the painter to work at the Clos Lucé near the king's castle in Amboise. Most likely through the heirs of Leonardo's assistant Salai, the king bought the painting for 4,000 écus and kept it at Château Fontainebleau, where it remained until given to Louis XIV. Louis XIV moved the painting to the Palace of Versailles. After the French Revolution, it was moved to the Louvre. Napoleon I had it moved to his bedroom in the Tuileries Palace; later it was returned to the Louvre. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) it was moved from the Louvre to the Brest Arsenal.
There has been much speculation regarding the painting's model and landscape. For example, that Leonardo probably painted his model faithfully since her beauty is not seen as being among the best, "even when measured by late quattrocento (15th century) or even twenty-first century standards." Some specialists in Chinese art, such as Yukio Yashiro, also argue that the landscape in the background of the picture was influenced by Chinese paintings, however this thesis has been contested for lack of clear evidence. Despite these arguments, it is known that Leonardo made some sketches before starting the picture (at right).
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.''