The Mona Lisa is rightly one of the most famous paintings in the world. It showcases the talent of Leonardo da Vinci, but the painting has also had a turbulent history. It has been stolen, attacked, and countless men have fallen in love with her. Discover everything you want to know about the mysterious Mona Lisa in this top 10.

10. Her name is not really Mona Lisa

The woman in this painting by Leonardo da Vinci is, of course, world-famous, but almost no one seems to know her real name. This is not Mona Lisa, but Lisa Gherardini. She was married to Francesco Del Giocondo, who then asked da Vinci to paint a portrait of his wife. The official title of the painting is La Gioconda, but it has been affectionately called Mona Lisa for centuries: “My lady Lisa”.

9. Napoleon was crazy about her

The famous general Napoleon had the Mona Lisa in his possession for several years. The painting hung in his bedroom, and he was clearly infatuated with her. Apparently, the general constantly spoke of her beauty and couldn’t get enough of her. His fascination went so far that he eventually fell in love with Teresa Guadagni. This Italian woman was a descendant of the real Mona Lisa.

8. The small painting is well protected

Many people who come to admire the Mona Lisa are surprised by its size. The painting is much smaller than you might think. With dimensions of 77 by 53 centimeters, it is a modest masterpiece. This small painting is also very fragile. Therefore, the Louvre does everything it can to keep the Mona Lisa in top condition. She has her own room in the museum, where the temperature is perfectly maintained for the canvas and paint. Additionally, the painting is protected by a small cage made of bulletproof glass. People with bad intentions cannot damage her.

7. Her eyebrows are notorious

Many people know the Mona Lisa as a painting of a woman without eyebrows. There is much speculation about the absence of these eyebrows. Was it fashionable at that time to shave your eyebrows? Or was da Vinci’s painting not yet finished? During an extensive study in 2007, the answer finally came: Leonardo da Vinci did paint eyebrows and eyelashes, but they have faded over the years. The Mona Lisa looked quite different a few centuries ago than you are used to.

6. She has a strange effect on men

You would think you could never fall in love with a painting, but it is possible. When the Mona Lisa was first exhibited at the Louvre in 1815, countless men flocked to her. They wanted to gaze into her mysterious eyes and laid flowers and poems for her. To this day, the Mona Lisa still has her own mailbox in the museum to accommodate all the love letters. Some men have even died for Mona Lisa. In 1852, Luc Maspero jumped from the fourth floor of a hotel, leaving a farewell note: “For years I have struggled with her smile, I would rather die.”.

5. The painting is priceless

In the 1960s, the Mona Lisa went on tour, meaning it had to be insured against theft and damage. The insurance estimated the value of the painting at that time at one hundred million dollars. However, the insurance was never taken out. The premium was so incredibly high that it was cheaper to hire a constant team of the best security guards. Another painting by Da Vinci is the most expensive in the world; in 2017, Salvator Mundi was sold for $450 million!

4. She was once attacked

If you look closely at the Mona Lisa, you will see that she is slightly damaged near her left elbow. This damage was caused by Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a man who threw a stone at the painting in 1956. A few months before this attack, someone else threw acid at the painting, damaging the bottom. This is why you find the Mona Lisa in her glass case today. That’s a good thing, because in 2009, an angry Russian tried to throw a mug at the painting because he wasn’t allowed to become a resident of France.

3. The Mona Lisa was stolen

MONA LISA The gap on the wall of the Carre Gallery of the Louvre Museum, Paris, where the Mona Lisa was exhibited before it was stolen – L”Illustration 26 August 1911 (page 166). – Mary Evans Picture Library/Everett Collection (ME10031014)

In 1911, all of France was in an uproar over the disappearance of the Mona Lisa. Flowers were laid at the Louvre, and the painting was mourned. The painting was taken by Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian employee of the Louvre who believed the painting belonged in Italy. He thought Napoleon had stolen the canvas. The painting should hang in the Uffizi in Florence.
There are other theories about the theft; years later, a marquis came forward with the story that he was behind the theft. He had hired Peruggia and several other men. His goal was to sell replicas of the painting.

2. Pablo Picasso was suspected of the theft

During the search for the thieves, several suspects were brought in. One of them was the world-famous artist Pablo Picasso. He had previously stolen paintings from the Louvre. The French police decided to interrogate the artist, but it turned out he had nothing to do with it. It was not until two years later, in 1913, that the Mona Lisa was found and Vincenzo Peruggia was arrested.

1. Her smile does not change, but your perspective does

There has been speculation for years about the mysterious smile of the Mona Lisa. Is she smiling or not? Scientists have studied this phenomenon. The painting’s gaze remains the same, but you can look at it in different ways. When you look at different points on her face, her smile seems to change. Moreover, you often see what you want to see. Do you expect a smiling woman? Then the Mona Lisa smiles at you.

Menno, from the Netherlands, is an expert in unearthing fascinating facts and unraveling knowledge. At Top10HQ, he delves into the depths of various subjects, from science to history, bringing readers well-researched and intriguing insights.

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