The Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. Considered a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, it has been described as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”.
The painting’s qualities include the subject’s enigmatic expression,monumentality of the composition, the subtle modeling of forms, and the atmospheric illusionism. It is painted in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel.
The Mona Lisa is said to be a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a Florentine merchant. For some reason however, it was never delivered to its patron, and Leonardo kept it with him when he went to work for Francis I, the King of France who acquired it. It is now the property of the French Republic and has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.
The painting’s global fame and popularity stem from its 1911 theft by Vincenzo Peruggia, who attributed his actions to Italian patriotism—a belief it should belong to Italy.
Did you know
Portraits were once rare and only the richest of people could afford to have their likeness captured. Wealthy merchants could commission a portrait, but even they would likely only have a single portrait painted during their lifetime.
The Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known painting insurance valuation in history at US$100 million in 1962, equivalent to $1 billion as of 2023.