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Mona Lisa - Who Is She?

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

During the period 1503 - 1519, one of the most famous paintings in the world was created. The Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo Da Vinci when he was staying in Florence, Italy. But who actually is the Mona Lisa?

Though it is still unknown who the lady actually is, many historians believe the lady in the painting isn’t actually called Mona Lisa. Her name is actually Lisa Gherardini who is the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine merchant. Hence why the Italian name for the painting is ‘La Gioconda’.

So we know her name is Lisa but where does the ‘Mona’ come from?

Commonly used in Italy, Mona is often used as a shortened form of saying ‘Madonna’, which in Italian means ‘My Lady’. This shows that Mona Lisa actually means ‘My Lady Lisa’, which makes sense since the painting was commissioned by her husband.

The Mona Lisa was only discovered in 1519 in Leonardo’s studio after he had died. It was said he spent many years working on it since he started it around 1503, adding multiple layers and finer details. Only after it was found was it added to the royal collection and later transferred to the Louvre Museum in Paris. Suggesting Francesco never got the painting of his wife.

Why is the Mona Lisa so famous?

Ever since 1911 the Mona Lisa was just a regular painting that was favoured since it was made by the famous Leonardo da Vinci. But what made it become known widely across the globe was because it was stolen in August 1911. This caused a huge uproar as where the Mona Lisa once rested was now an empty wall. It was only two years later it was finally recovered and the thieves were sent to prison. Since then the Mona Lisa has gone on many tours across the world travelling to New York, Tokyo and many more with it now currently being settled back at the Louvre Museum.

Now the painting is around 519 years old from when it was first painted and is still in good condition ever since the many attempts of graffiti with ceramic mugs, red paint, acid, rocks and most recently cake being hurled at it (luckily it was protected in bulletproof glass).

To this present day we are still left with many questions about the Mona Lisa, like who she actually is and what emotion is shown on her face. Leaving us confused as to whether she is happy or unsatisfied with herself being painted. In addition, to a conspiracy theory that the painting is actually of Leonardo da Vinci himself but as a woman, using this painting as an artistic riddle.

To this day, nobody knows the true identity of the mysterious lady in the painting, the only person who knows is Leonardo Da Vinci himself (if only we could speak to the dead).

What do you think, who is Mona Lisa?

  • Written by Kara Palmer

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