Feb 5, 2021 in Informative

Mona Lisa Painting


Mona Lisa refers to a portrait painting of a woman. It was created by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci in a period from 1503 to 1506. The painting measures 77 centimeters by 53 centimeters in dimension. It is a reflection of Francesco Del Giocondos wife known as Lisa Gherardini and was done using the sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The image depicts a woman dressed in the Florentine fashion with an enigmatic expression. Such demonstration by the artist gives the painting a universal fame and is recognized all over the world by thousands of artists and art lovers. The paper covers the impact of Mona Lisas painting in the field of art and the entire world.

Title of the Image Painting

Leonardos masterpiece has been discussed in various works of literature. The woman represented in the portrait has been embraced as a philosophical, aesthetic and advertising symbol. According to Vasari, the lady in the portrait is a young Florentine woman called Mona Lisa, who later married a well-recognized person Francesco Del Giocondo, hence, the title of La Gioconda. The artist was in love with the portrait and always traveled with it until it was sold to Francois I - the King of France.

Following its uniqueness, the painting became a prototype of the Renaissance portrait, which was admired by many people and copied several times. In 1911, the portrait was much popularized as it was stolen from a museum in Paris, known as the Louvre, and two years later found in a hotel in Florence. The painting encompasses complex stylistic motifs, such as elegance, which was signified by the slight opening of the mouth curves in the portrait.

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Design of the Painting

The pyramid design was used by the artist to ensure that the portrait of the woman was simply and calmly placed within the painting space. The neck, breast and glow on the face are illustrated by the same light that is engulfed in her hands. The folded hands form part of the front corner of the pyramid. Leonardo used light to give variety of living surfaces to the shapes of circles and spheres underneath. Between an observer and sitter, there is a visual impression of distance created by the artist when in the process of work. There is also a chair armrest that separates the image of the painting and the observer.

The reserved posture of the woman is showcased in her upright style with folded arms. However, there is a fixed gaze from her that is likely to welcome any observer without words. Furthermore, the face which is brightly lit is framed with dark elements, including veil, shadows and hair. By not drawing the outlines, the artist managed to bring out the woman as if she was alive, especially the features of the mouth and eyes.

Looking at the portrait, one notices that the right hand of a woman is resting on the left hand symbolizing a virtuous and faithful woman. Another conspicuous thing in the painting is the imaginary landscape behind the woman, which was painted using aerial perspective. The artist depicts the enigmatic woman sitting in an open loggia surrounded with bases made of dark pillars on either side. In the backyard, there is a landscape receding to icy mountains. Such kind of design is made in a way that the presence of human beings is felt whenever one has a closer look at the painting. An example of the indication is the winding paths and a distant bridge showcased at the background of the painting.

Indeed, the artist was full of options when it came to the womans hair, which was in admirable curves and clothing expressed by the captivating imaginary valleys and rivers at the back of the image. The combination of blurred outlines, a unique comparison of both dark and light colors and beautiful figure of a woman made the painting very attractive to many people worldwide. The relationship between nature and humanity is symbolized in the painting by harmonizing the entire painting with the surroundings and bringing out a woman with a faint smile. However, some critics argue that the portrait of a woman simply reflected an ideal woman and not a real woman in the modern society. The reason is that a real woman cannot be as perfect as Mona Lisa. Lack of visible eyebrows or eyelashes on the image of the painting also makes it more attractive. Subsequently, there are indications from researchers who ascertain that the initial portrait could have had the eyebrows, but regular cleaning of the painting could have caused them to disappear.


Being a unique and renowned painting globally, the image of Mona Lisa has dominated for a period of 500 years till present. According to the international commission that was convened in 1952, the art work is still in a good state due to the strict conservation by the management of the Louvre museum. Traditionally, the art work was handled with a lot of restraint by restores, but some varnish had to be applied for preservation at the end of the 16th century. In the year 1809, the painting was thoroughly cleaned and varnish applied again. The whole exercise was done to keep the painting in a good shape; unfortunately, some uppermost parts of the paint layer were scrapped, which made the face of the image look washed out. However, it did not destroy the painting, which remained magnificent and is still preserved for future generations.

The preservation of the portrait in the Louvre museum is given priority and at some point the image had to be changed from the old frame. As a result, the unrestricted poplar panel carved in freely due to changes in humidity that lead to a crack next to the panels top. The crack continued to grow until it touched the figures hairline calling for the insertion of two walnut braces that were in the butterfly shape. Eventually, the crack was stabilized through the skillful intervention process. When the art painting was stolen in the year 1888, the brace in the upper part was removed due to the poor handling and management. As a remedy to the crack, glue was used together with some cloth and flexible oak frame added to prevent warping of the panel.

At present, the painting is stored in a bullet proof glass under climate controlled conditions. The temperatures are regulated between 18-210 C, while humidity is controlled at 50% plus or minus 10%. A bed of silica gel is provided to ensure relative humidity of 55% in order to compensate any fluctuations that may arise. Some warping was experienced on the frames of the painting due to the expansion and contraction of popular support when the humidity changes. It was solved by fitting the painting with a flexible frame made from oak, which exerts pressure on the frame to prevent it from further warping. In 2004, the marble crosspieces were replaced with sycamore ones with an additional metallic cross piece to measure the warp of the panel. Since its inception, the image has had different decorative frames based on changes in taste over centuries. As a result, trimming of the painting edges had to be tailored to fit the frames without interfering with the original layer of paint, which has remained intact over the ages.

In 1809, the art work was recorded to have been cleaned extensively by Jean Marie, who worked at the Napoleon museum as a conservertist. The painting was cleaned with spirits, revarnished and color touch up was performed. Some parts of the painting that were disturbed with the crack were worked on using water color and areas that were initially covered with an older frame were masked using varnish. On discovering that the panels back was infested with insects in the year 1977, carbon tetrachloride and ethylene oxide were used for treatment. The infected crosspieces of oak frame were initially used to maintain the painting from warping.

Since 2005, the painting is always illuminated by a lamp made of LED and supported with a lamp comprising 20 watt LED installed in 2013. The purpose of the lamp is to minimize the ultraviolet and infrared radiations, which most likely affect the painting negatively. The color rendering index of about 98 helps the lamp in serving its purpose effectively. Present renovations of the Louvre museum where the painting is based were financed by a famous Japanese broadcaster known as Nippon Television. Following its popularity all over the world, many people visit the Louvre museum to view the painting annually.

Critical and Rhetorical Explanation of the Painting

Critically speaking, the painting has been able to attract more people who admire and appreciate the image more than any other known painting image in the world. Its fame has gone far beyond inspiring romantic poets to write about the portrait as about a femme fatale, simply due to the fact that Mona Lisa was known to be an ordinary person. The portrait is open to anyone so the viewers can learn so many things from the painting, ranging from nature, humanity and to the artistic styles used by Leonardo.

Indeed, the artwork has gained a lot of admiration and respect, as well as skeptical responses expressed in caricatures resembling the image of the painting. For instance, in 1963, the painting was unveiled in Washington D.C. National Gallery of Art by that time US president John F. Kennedy and other prominent people namely: Lyndon, Johnson, Andrea Malraux, Jacqueline Kennedy and Madeleine Malraux. The presence of such great personalities justifies the significance of the art image in the museum field.

During the year 1852, the painting had a market value of 90,000 francs in France compared to 600,000 francs of total the artwork in the Louvre museum. It proves that the painting was famous and greatly valued in the field of art. As a result, various artists were tempted to copy and reproduce the work instead of being original and come up with their own art work. The legacy of the painting was more pronounced when the governments of France lent it to the Government of America for display. However, before the painting embarked on the tour it was insured of $ 100 million and protected by the very tight security.

There are lots of reasons why the image has managed to remain famous and relevant nowadays despite the fact that it was created a long time ago. The artistic style used in painting the image has given it an outstanding acknowledgement among many people, both in the art and literature sections. Presently, it is a reference item for any painting work and some people have copied it or created a similar image with some modifications. Even those artists who try to criticize the painting have not managed to come up with good images that have attracted attention as the one of Leonardo. Indeed, his artwork was demystified as imperceptible transitions between light and shade and blend of different styles. Creating his masterpiece the artist expressed his talent to the extent that it is sometimes even difficult to say if a brush was used.

The way light is expressed to fall on the curved surfaces is fascinating and critical during the painting of the image. Transparent color is used to illustrate the gauzy veil, the luminescence of her skin and Mona Lisas hair. The outcome of it is the glowing face of a woman, which makes the entire image to be ethereal and have a unique quality. Such kind of work belongs to its own class as it portrays realism by depicting shining eyes and smiling lips. It is difficult to differentiate whether the image is painted or a real one as it appears to have flesh and blood. The painting is created so realistic that it may seem that the pulses of the throat are also beating. It is clear evidence that the artist was well versed in matters of science ranging from human anatomy, mathematics and astronomy. Aerial perspective has been incorporated to bring about the illusion of depth where the distance something determines the scale and mutation of colors. The focus of the torso in the painting is carried out in a way to get much of viewers attention when looking at the portrait.

Rhetorically, Leonardo is referred to as a scientist as he mastered the sky, atmosphere and other elements, which he used to incorporate in his artistic works. The most crucial thing about his paintings was the knowledge of doing it and not necessarily the appearance of the painting. For instance, analyzing the same painting, one realizes a paradigm shift from soft places like clouds to some extreme display of intricacy and decoration of features. It is very clear when it comes to the neckline of the dress, which has got some embroidery that are interlaced, thus creating a different cohesion of the painting. Being an innovation in the 16th century, the painting has withstood the test of time and proved the critics wrong. Departing from the tradition of art, Leonardo uses creative and fictional possibilities to portray both reality and the dream world.

However, with time, some art work specialists have had a dissenting opinion on the painting. Their statements are grounded on the fact that there is no sufficient proof to confirm the image painted was Lisa Del Giocondo. Some theories have stated that the image in the painting could have been of Caterina, who was the mother of Leonardo. Others have stated that Leonardo could use his own image but in a feminine representation. Therefore, the painting has continued to elicit mixed reactions among the people in the art and literature fields with others like Andy Warhol coming with serigraphs of the multiple Mona Lisas images. They are commonly known as thirty caricatures are better than one.

It was rhetoric when the fame of the painting was popularized in 1911 through theft scandals. The thief who was a worker at the Louvre museum stole the painting and hid it in a closet and later transferred it to another location. Eduardo de Valfiemo who masterminded the entire plan of stealing the painting had the intention of reproducing the original image and selling them as if they were original. However, it was short lived, since he was arrested in 1913 while trying to sell the original to an art dealer in Florence. Actually, the events surrounding the disappearance and reappearance of the image are a mystery to many people. Critically, people still wonder if the recovered image was the original one as no one exactly knew how the original artwork looked like before. Several interpretations and myths can be drawn from the painting, including the thoughts of some critics that it is an imagination of a supernatural force manifested in the image.

Originally created in Italy, the painting later becomes permanently based in France as it is owned there. It occurred after the artist had decided to sell it to the French King when he went to work there. Great leaders have always been associated with the painting as evidenced by Napoleon. He was impressed by the painting compelling him to buy it and store it in his bedroom before returning it back to the gallery. It was treasured as a precious asset and even managed to survive the French revolution and later relocation to the Louvre Museum for preservation and storage. Following its symbolism, the painting gained popularity and caused the entire Louvre museum to be closed down for a whole week when it was stolen.

Indeed, not everyone loved and embraced the image in equal measure as was witnessed in a Tokyo museum where a woman tried to apply red paint on it. Another woman tried to hit the painting using a mug she had bought in the museum simply due to the fact that she had been denied French citizenship. Such reactions make people wonder why a mere painting could attract such attention, yet other significant things cannot do the same. It is mysterious that the painting continued to exist even after the original artist died. In fact, his students had very humble time in popularizing the artwork as it outlived them and is still recognized. The painting has become a great tourist attraction in the world today and contributes a lot of revenues to the country owner. It is a demonstration of how art work can be an important tool in transforming the world through motivation and changing peoples character.


From the discussion above, one comes to the conclusion that Mona Lisa painting is one of the most famous and celebrated images of art ever produced. It has managed to stand the test of time by existing for about 500 years, despite the numerous challenges it encountered. They range from the death of the artist, originality of wrangles and theft and vandalism done to the painting. Some of the well-established artists in the field of painting have criticized Leonardos image, but have never come up with an outstanding alternative themselves. Instead, they, with no success, tried reproducing Leonardos work or imitate his style. However, it does not mean that Mona Lisas image was perfect. It was an expression of how beauty can be combined with nature to bring out a long lasting expression. Looking at the image, one gets encouraged and learns to appreciate the beauty and the entire environment as demonstrated by Leonardo through his painting. Therefore, the Mona Lisas image painting has had a permanent mark in the arena of artwork and the world at large.


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