The most recognized painting in the whole world holds the most mysterious background as well. The Mona Lisa or La Gioconda by Leonardo Da Vinci is a wonderful example of his artistry from a good 500 years ago. Part of what makes the Mona Lisa such a controversial portrait is the mystique that surrounds it. Who is the woman Da Vinci depicted and why was she painted that way? Is there a meaning to the smile and to the lack of facial hair?
Who was Mona Lisa for Leonardo da Vinci?
There have been many speculations as to the identity of the sitter. Some say it was Da Vinci’s recollection of his mother while others purport that it is Da Vinci himself, banking on the homosexuality of the famed painter. However, allegations have been laid to rest for now as the woman that Da Vinci painted was Lisa del Giocondo, wife to prominent silk trader Francisco Giocondo. The term La Gioconda was a play on her surname and the joviality that she was reported to have possessed. Who the sitter really was for Da Vinci may be lost to history as only the famed painter could tell. However, the painting itself is an important masterpiece that exhibited Da Vinci’s artistic prowess which was quite advanced for the time period.
What makes the Mona Lisa unlike any other portrait of a woman?
Aside from pioneering the sfumato technique for painting life-like portraits, Da Vinci accomplished something that most painters and artists would want their creations to achieve – mystify and interest the audience. At first glance, the Mona Lisa presents an aura of mystique, a come-hither glance that enthralls the viewer to look longer and study the picture. Viewers have reported that her smile, despite being just a slight upturn on the corners, was the most drawing, and her eyebrow-less eyes were intriguing. Onlookers have always wondered what was the painting trying to say and what was the mood it was trying to generate unlike other portraits that immediately showed the emotion or theme.
Moving past the subject, the setting around her is also an intriguing part of the painting. It has been said that the Mona Lisa was probably the first painting to incorporate a fictional background, adding to the prowess of Da Vinci in producing such lush and intricate setting from imagination. However, the setting does not overpower the subject, and in fact lends much to the charm of the whole creation.