Leonardo Da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503. According to Da Vinci's contemporary, Giorgi
o Vasari, "...after he had lingered over it four years, left it unfinished...."[5] He is thought to
have continued to work on it for three years after he moved to France and to have finished it shortl
y before he died in 1519.[6] Leonardo took the painting from Italy to France in 1516 when King Fran
ois I invited the painter to work at the Clos Luc near the king's castle in Amboise. Most likely th
rough the heirs of Leonardo's assistant Salai,[7] the king bought the painting for 4,000 cus and ke
pt it at Chteau Fontainebleau, where it remained until given to Louis XIV. Louis XIV moved the pain
ting 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 t
he Franco-Prussian War (1870.1871) it was moved from the Louvre to a hiding place elsewhere in Franc
e.[citation needed] Mona Lisa was not well known until the mid-nineteenth century when artists of th
e emerging Symbolist movement began to appreciate it, and associated it with their ideas about femin
ine 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 gra
ve." Mona Lisa is named for Lisa del Giocondo,[8][9] a member of the Gherardini family of Florence a
nd Tuscany and the wife of wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo.[7] The painting
was commissioned for their new home and to celebrate the birth of their second son, Andrea.[10] The
sitter's identity was ascertained at the University of Heidelberg in 2005 by a library expert who di
scovered a 1503 margin note written by Agostino Vespucci.[11] Scholars have been of many minds, iden
tifying at least four different paintings as the Mona Lisa[12][13][14] and several people as its sub
ject. Leonardo's mother Caterina in a distant memory, Isabella of Naples or Aragon,[15] Cecilia Gall
erani,[16] Costanza d'Avalos.who was also called the "merry one" or La Gioconda,[14] Isabella d'Este
, Pacifica Brandano or Brandino, Isabela Gualanda, Caterina Sforza, and Leonardo himself have all be
en named the sitter.[6][17] Today the subject's identity is held to be Lisa, which was always the tr
aditional view.[11] A margin note by Agostino Vespucci from October 1503 in a book in the library of
the University of Heidelberg identifies Lisa del Giocondo as the model of Mona Lisa. The painting's
title stems from a description by Giorgio Vasari in his biography of Leonardo published in 1550, 31
years after the artist's death. "Leonardo undertook to paint, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portr
ait of Mona Lisa, his wife...."[5] (one version in Italian: Prese Lionardo a fare per Francesco del
Giocondo il ritratto di mona Lisa sua moglie).[18] In Italian, ma donna means my lady. This became m
adonna, and its contraction mona. Mona is thus a polite form of address, similar to Ma.am, Madam, or
my lady in English. In modern Italian, the short form of madonna is usually spelled Monna, so the t
itle is sometimes Monna Lisa, rarely in English and more commonly in Romance languages such as Frenc
h and Italian. At his death in 1525, Leonardo's assistant Salai owned the portrait named in his pers
onal papers la Gioconda which had been bequeathed to him by the artist. Italian for jocund, happy or
jovial, Gioconda was a nickname for the sitter, a pun on the feminine form of her married name Gioc
ondo and her disposition.[7][19] In French, the title La Joconde has the same double meaning. Leonar
do used a pyramid design to place the woman simply and calmly in the space of the painting. Her fold
ed hands form the front corner of the pyramid. Her breast, neck and face glow in the same light that
models her hands. The light gives the variety of living surfaces an underlying geometry of spheres
and circles. Leonardo referred to a seemingly simple formula for seated female figure: the images of
seated Madonna, which were widespread at the time. He effectively modified this formula in order to
create the visual impression of distance between the sitter and the observer. The armrest of the ch
air functions as a dividing element between Mona Lisa and the viewer. The woman sits markedly uprigh
t with her arms folded, which is also a sign of her reserved posture. Only her gaze is fixed on the
observer and seems to welcome them to this silent communication. Since the brightly lit face is prac
tically framed with various much darker elements (hair, veil, shadows), the observer's attraction to
Mona Lisa's face is brought to even greater extent. Thus, the composition of the figure evokes an a
mbiguous effect: we are attracted to this mysterious woman but have to stay at a distance as if she
were a divine creature.[citation needed] There is no indication of an intimate dialogue between the
woman and the observer as is the case in the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (Louvre) painted by
Raphael about ten years after Mona Lisa, and undoubtedly influenced by Leonardo's portrait. The pain
ting was among the first portraits to depict the sitter before an imaginary landscape and Leonardo w
as one of the first painters to use aerial perspective.[21] The enigmatic woman is portrayed seated
in what appears to be an open loggia with dark pillar bases on either side. Behind her a vast landsc
ape recedes to icy mountains. Winding paths and a distant bridge give only the slightest indications
of human presence. The sensuous curves of the woman's hair and clothing, created through sfumato, a
re echoed in the undulating imaginary valleys and rivers behind her. The blurred outlines, graceful
figure, dramatic contrasts of light and dark, and overall feeling of calm are characteristic of Leon
ardo's style. Due to the expressive synthesis that Leonardo achieved between sitter and landscape it
is arguable whether Mona Lisa should be considered as a traditional portrait, for it represents an
ideal rather than a real woman. The sense of overall harmony achieved in the painting.especially app
arent in the sitter's faint smile.reflects the idea of a link connecting humanity and nature. Mona L
isa has no visible facial hair.including eyebrows and eyelashes. Some researchers claim that it was
common at this time for genteel women to pluck them out, since they were considered to be unsightly.
[22][23] In 2007, French engineer Pascal Cotte announced that his ultra high resolution scans of the
painting provide evidence that Mona Lisa was originally painted with eyelashes and eyebrows, but th
at these had gradually disappeared over time, perhaps as a result of overcleaning.[24] For modern vi
ewers the missing eyebrows add to the slightly semi-abstract quality of the face. The Mona Lisa pain
ting now hangs in the Muse du Louvre in Paris, France. The painting's increasing fame was further e
mphasized when it was stolen on August 22, 1911.[25] The next day, Louis Broud, a painter, walked i
nto the Louvre and went to the Salon Carr where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years. H
owever, where the Mona Lisa should have stood, he found four iron pegs. Broud contacted the section
head of the guards, who thought the painting was being photographed for marketing purposes. A few h
ours later, Broud checked back with the section head of the museum, and it was confirmed that the M
ona Lisa was not with the photographers. The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid in investig
ation of the theft. French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "bur
nt down," came under suspicion; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire tried to implicate his
friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.[26] A
t the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real
thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during reg
ular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum
had closed.[19] Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed Leonardo's painting should be returned
to Italy for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sol
d copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After havi
ng kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught
when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited al
l over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and
only served a few months in jail for the crime.[26] During World War II, the painting was again rem
oved from the Louvre and taken safely, first to Chteau d'Amboise, then to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and fi
nally to the Ingres Museum in Montauban. In 1956, the lower part of the painting was severely damage
d when a vandal doused the painting with acid.[27] On December 30 of that same year, a young Bolivia
n named Ugo Ungaza Villegas damaged the painting by throwing a rock at it. This resulted in the loss
of a speck of pigment near the left elbow, which was later painted over.[28] The use of bulletproof
glass has shielded the Mona Lisa from more recent attacks. In April 1974, a handicapped woman, upse
t by the museum's policy for the disabled, sprayed red paint at the painting while it was on display
at the Tokyo National Museum.[29] On August 2, 2009, a Russian woman, distraught over being denied
French citizenship, threw a terra cotta mug or teacup, purchased at the museum, at the painting in t
he Louvre; the vessel shattered against the glass enclosure.[30][31] In both cases, the painting was
undamaged. The Mona Lisa painting now hangs in the Muse du Louvre in Paris, France. The painting's
increasing fame was further emphasized when it was stolen on August 22, 1911.[25] The next day, Lou
is Broud, a painter, walked into the Louvre and went to the Salon Carr where the Mona Lisa had bee
n on display for five years. However, where the Mona Lisa should have stood, he found four iron pegs
. Broud contacted the section head of the guards, who thought the painting was being photographed f
or marketing purposes. A few hours later, Broud checked back with the section head of the museum, a
nd it was confirmed that the Mona Lisa was not with the photographers. The Louvre was closed for an
entire week to aid in investigation of the theft. French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once ca
lled for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion; he was arrested and put in jail. Apoll
inaire tried to implicate his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but bot
h were later exonerated.[26] At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would
be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by en
tering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden un
der his coat after the museum had closed.[19] Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed Leonardo'
s painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been
motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the the
ft of the original. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew imp
atient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in
Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed f
or his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.[26] During World War
II, the painting was again removed from the Louvre and taken safely, first to Chteau d'Amboise, the
n to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and finally to the Ingres Museum in Montauban. In 1956, the lower part of th
e painting was severely damaged when a vandal doused the painting with acid.[27] On December 30 of t
hat same year, a young Bolivian named Ugo Ungaza Villegas damaged the painting by throwing a rock at
it. This resulted in the loss of a speck of pigment near the left elbow, which was later painted ov
er.[28] The use of bulletproof glass has shielded the Mona Lisa from more recent attacks. In April 1
974, a handicapped woman, upset by the museum's policy for the disabled, sprayed red paint at the pa
inting while it was on display at the Tokyo National Museum.[29] On August 2, 2009, a Russian woman,
distraught over being denied French citizenship, threw a terra cotta mug or teacup, purchased at th
e museum, at the painting in the Louvre; the vessel shattered against the glass enclosure.[30][31] I
n both cases, the painting was undamaged. The first and most extensive recorded cleaning, revarnishi
ng, and touch up of the Mona Lisa was an 1809 wash and re-varnish undertaken by Jean-Marie Hooghstoe
l, who was responsible for restoration of paintings for the galleries of the Muse Napolon. The wor
k involved cleaning with spirits, touch up of color, and revarnishing the painting. In 1906, Louvre
restorer Eugne Denizard performed watercolor retouches on areas of the paint layer disturbed by the
crack in the panel. Denizard also retouched the edges of the picture with varnish, to mask areas th
at had been covered initially by an older frame. In 1913, when the painting was recovered after its
theft, Denizard was again called upon to work on the Mona Lisa. Denizard was directed to clean the p
icture without solvent, and to lightly touch up several scratches to the painting with watercolor. I
n 1952, the varnish layer over the background in the painting was evened out. After the second 1956
attack, restorer Jean-Gabriel Goulinat was directed to touch up the damage to Mona Lisa's left elbow
with watercolor.[32] In 1977, a new insect infestation was discovered in the back of the panel as a
result of crosspieces installed to keep the painting from warping. This was treated on the spot wit
h carbon tetrachloride, and later with an ethylene oxide treatment. In 1985, the spot was again trea
ted with carbon tetrachloride as a preventive measure.[32] Display On April 6, 2005.following a peri
od of curatorial maintenance, recording, and analysis.the painting was moved to a new location withi
n the museum's Salle des tats. It is displayed in a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure beh
ind bullet-proof glass.[34] About 6 million people view the painting at the Louvre each year.[6] A c
harcoal and graphite study of the Mona Lisa attributed to Leonardo is in the Hyde Collection, in Gle
ns Falls, NY.[35] Fame Historian Donald Sassoon catalogued the growth of the painting's fame. During