The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings globally, but her identity has remained a mystery for centuries. Some people believe that she was based on a historical figure, while others think she was entirely fictional.
In this blog post, we will look at some of the theories about her identity and discuss what researchers have uncovered over the years. So, stay tuned to discover the answer to this mystery.
Known History of The Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci between 1503 and 1506; while Da Vinci is known as a mathematician, artist, inventor, architect, and cartographer, perhaps his painting may be more memorable than himself. Historical sources point to the Palace of Fontainebleau as the first resting place of the famous painting. The painting hung in Napoleon’s bedroom for a time, but that did not last long.
The painting currently hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, and has been there on permanent display since 1797. When Da Vinci made the painting, the Virgin Mary was the ideal woman, which is why the painting resembles early Renaissance art.
Thieves Have Tried To Steal It
It is one of the most valuable pieces of artwork globally and has been the target of multiple theft attempts. In 1911, it was stolen by an Italian man named Vincenzo Perugia, a Louvre employee, who hid the painting under his clothes and walked out.
At the time, many rumors surrounded the theft claiming that Germany was behind it; unfortunately, investigators could not determine where the painting had disappeared. The theft of the painting truly stunned the art community due to its bold nature.
Authorities returned it two years later after Perugia tried to sell it in Italy. Apparently, in November of 1913, an Italian art dealer named Alfredo Geri received a letter from someone calling themselves Leonardo.
The letter mentioned the Mona Lisa and that it was in Florence and would be returned after Geri paid a hefty ransom. When Perugia tried to collect on his threats, the authorities arrested him.
Vandals Have Tried To Destroy It
Unfortunately, it seems that when an artist creates something beautiful that is worth a lot of money, people will go to great lengths to try and destroy it. In 1956, a man threw acid on the lower half of the painting, severely damaging it, while it was on display at a museum in Montauban, France.
On December 30th of that year, a Bolivian man named Ugo Ungaza Villegas threw a rock at the painting that chipped a noticeable speck of paint from the elbow.
Other attempts at vandalism happened while the painting was on tour in other parts of the world. For instance, in 1974, a woman upset by the museum’s policy for disabled patrons tried to spray red paint at the painting while it was on display at the Tokyo National Museum. Since then, the Mona Lisa has been safely behind a bulletproof glass case.
Mona Lisa’s True Identity
Throughout history, many assumptions and theories have been made about the woman’s true identity in the Mona Lisa. Some say she was a prostitute; others say she was a noblewoman; some say the woman was Leonardo’s mother; others say she was Leonardo’s secret lover.
But unfortunately, speculation will only get us so far, and the advent of high-tech technology has provided an edge that earlier civilizations couldn’t use.
Despite the backlash he received, a well-known art historian named Vasari from the 16th century said that the Mona Lisa was the wife of a wealthy businessman who lived in Florence, Italy.
However, it wasn’t until 2005 that a manuscript containing vital evidence to support his claim was found in a stack of ancient books from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. By studying the book and its contents, researchers determined that it belonged to Vespucci, a good friend of Da Vinci’s.
The Wife of A Wealthy Merchant
As the library pieced together the discovery, there was still doubt about its validity of the discovery. Finally, Dr. Armin Schlechter, a historian for the University, mentioned that a margin note in the book Agostino Vespucci from October 1503 solidifies his findings.
Lisa Gherardini was born on June 15th, 1479, and was the oldest of all her seven siblings. Lisa came from a wealthy family, but over time they lost their influence; this was during the early stages of the Renaissance.
On March 5, 1495, Lisa married Francesco del Giocondo, a very wealthy Florentine textile merchant, when she was 16 years old; Francesco benefited from marrying Lisa because of her status, but her dowry consisted of 170 gold Florins and a farm.
Lisa enjoyed the benefits of marrying into the Giocondo family and gaining a high social status. The Mona Lisa is identified in the note as none other than Lisa del Giocondo, the third wife of Francesco del Giocondo, the renowned silk merchant whose family lived in Tuscany and Florence.
The Reason For Painting The Mona Lisa
Historians believe that the painting was commissioned to celebrate their new child for the couple’s new home. The couple would go on to have five children. Then, on March 5, 1503, Lisa and Francesco moved to an apartment near the Via Della Stufa, where Piero da Vinci, Leonardo’s father, lived; it wouldn’t take long for Piero and Lisa to become close neighbors.
It was common among wealthy families to immortalize events in paintings, and so this was something the Giocondos regularly did. In 1503, Francesco invited four artists to portray Lisa del Giocondo, and Leonardo was one of them. Sources say that it took Leonardo approximately ten years to complete the Mona Lisa, which depicts her gentleness and faithfulness.
According to Leonardo’s vision, Lisa was also very fashionable and charismatic. According to scholars, it is said that due to the disputes of wealthy families in Florence, like the Gherardini’s against the Guiliano de Medici, Leonardo did not give the portrait to the Lisa del Giocondo. Other sources suggest that Leonardo kept the picture with him because he wasn’t paid for the artwork.
The identity of the Mona Lisa has been debated for centuries, but with recent discoveries, we now know she was a real person. Lisa Gherardini was immortalized in a painting by Leonardo da Vinci and is one of the world’s most valuable paintings. There have been many attempts to recreate the masterpiece, but there is only one original. So even though we know her identity, she will always be the Mona Lisa.