Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Title: Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)
Created: Around 1503-05
Medium: Oil paint on poplar wooden panel
Dimensions of original work: 77 x 53 cm (30 3/8 x 20 7/8 in.)
Where to see it: Musée du Louvre, Paris
About this Work:
Leonardo's portrait of Lisa del Giocondo (née Gherardini; Italian, 1479-1542/51) is arguably the most easily recognized painting on Planet Earth. Though it now enjoys superstar status, it sprang from more modest beginnings: Lisa's husband Francesco, a Florentine merchant, commissioned it to celebrate the birth of the couple's second son and decorate a wall of their new house.
It never graced the Giocondo house, though. Leonardo kept the portrait with him until he died in 1519, after which it passed to his assistant and heir Salai. Salai's heirs, in turn, sold it to King François I of France, and it has remained a national treasure of that country's ever since. Many thousands of visitors view Mona Lisa each day that the Musée du Louvre is open, spending an estimated 15 seconds apiece before it. Surely longer contemplation is indicted.
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