- 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 visible in the hazy background. So, what’s the big deal—why is this the most discussed painting in the world?
Possibly, it’s because of the smile. Mysterious, haunting, welcoming, remote, beguiling, enigmatic, beautiful—these are just a few of the words 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 spent years working on the painting, adding thin layer upon thin layer to achieve the hauntingly subtle effects of light and shadow. Leonardo loved the painting so much that he kept it for himself, never giving it to the person he painted it for! Take a good look at this masterpiece. Pay attention to her smile. Why do you think the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world?