- from Leonardo da Vinci
A woman, dressed simply in black, sits calmly, one hand placed over the other, her body turned slightly away from the viewer. Trees and a lake are in the background. So, what’s the big deal—why is this the most talked-about painting in the world?
It may be because of the smile. Mysterious, haunting, welcoming, remote, beguiling, enigmatic, beautiful: these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the famous smile in the world’s most famous painting. Mona Lisa was an actual person. Born in 1479, she lived in Florence, Italy. Her husband, Francesco del Giocondo, a rich silk merchant, asked Leonardo to paint her portrait around 1503. In Italy, the Mona Lisa is known as La Gioconda, from Mona Lisa’s married name.
Leonardo worked on the painting for years, adding many thin layers to create haunting and delicate effects of light and shadow. He loved the painting so much, he kept it for himself. He never even gave it to the person who requested it! Take a good look at the Mona Lisa, especially her famous smile. Why do you think this is the most famous painting in the world?