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Mona Lisa – The most famous painting in the world

Mona Lisa – The most famous painting in the world

Want to know more about Mona Lisa? It’s one of the most famous paintings in the world, painted by Leonardo da Vinci himself. Every year, millions of tourists visit the Louvre in Paris to see the artwork. 

But who was Mona Lisa? And what’s so special about the painting? In this article, I will share everything you need to know about Mona Lisa as well as how to see the painting in real life. 

Mona Lisa portrait

It’s one of the most well-known paintings in the world and has been described as the most written about, most sung about, most visited, and most parodied artwork in the world. Tourists from all over the world come to Paris to admire the legendary Mona Lista painting by Leonardo da Vinci. 

Just in 2018, more than 10 million people visited the Louvre. Of course, there are lots of famous artworks in the Louvre, but a visit wouldn’t be complete without taking a closer look at Mona Lisa. 

What many don’t realize is that the painting is actually quite small. It measures only 77 x 53 cm and even I was surprised when I saw it with my own eyes. The perspective is further amplified by the large crowd who strand and push their way to take selfies in front of it.

Mona Lisa turister

More information about Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci received the order to make the painting in 1503 by the wealthy Francesco del Giocondo, who actually never received the finished painting since he died before its completion. He wanted to place a portrait that would fit in the dining room, and many believe that it’s a portrait of his wife, Lisa Gherardini. 

The painting was finished in 1506, although some sources claim that it took longer to finish. Also, it wasn’t Leonardo who named the painting, but Giorgio Vasari who wrote Da Vinci’s biography, 31 years after his death.

Lisa del Giacondo

The name Mona is a common shortening of the Italian madonna, which means miss, which also makes the name quite logical “Miss Lisa”.

Leonardo never received the payment from Francesco for the painting and it remained in his possession. And it must have been special to him because he kept it and even brought it with him when he moved to Clos Lucé, next to the French Castle in Amboise.

The French King bought the artwork for 12 000 francs and after that, it was placed in the Fontainebleau castle. For a short while, it also hung on the wall in Versailles but was later moved to the Louvre during the French Revolution.  

During a short period of time, Mona Lisa even hung in Napoleon’s private bedroom before it was brought back to the Louvre. What’s even more surprising is that it wasn’t until the 1900s that the painting gained fame worldwide.

Monna Lisa painting

The great theft that made it famous

Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre on 21 August in 1911. Both Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso were the main suspects for the theft, but they were later released from custody.

At last, they found out that it was an employee at the Louvre who stole the Mona Lisa, namely Vincenzo Peruggia. He stole it by order from Eduardo de Valfierno, but it was never delivered to him. 

Peruggia kept the artwork hidden for two years and it was long thought that the painting was lost and never to be found again. However, the thief actually went to an art dealer with the hopes to get the reward that was promised if the painting was returned.

What’s so special about Mona Lisa?

Many art lovers see it as a masterpiece due to how it was painted by Da Vinci, which created an optical illusion of her smile. Moreover, he used an old technique called sfumato along with other innovative techniques.

The viewer’s attention will be directed both to the eyes and mouth, which was a unique feature at the time. Some also claim that Leonardo painted Mona Lisa as a female version of himself.

Who Was Mona Lisa in real life?

Most historians agree that the woman behind Mona Lisa in real life is the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, better known as Lisa Gherardini or Lisa del Giocondo. 

Why is Mona Lisa so famous?

The main reason for its fame is because it’s recognized as a great example of Renaissance artwork and because of the sfumato technique that Leonardo used to make the painting.

Furthermore, Mona Lisa has also become famous for her smile and rumors that it contains hidden messages and symbols. Additionally, the portrait is more than just a simple portrait and it contains meticulous details, including the background. 

Quick facts about Mona Lisa

  • Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Other names: Monna Lisa and La Gioconda (Italian)
  • Type: Oil on poplar panel
  • Subject: Lisa Gherardini
  • Completed in: 1506
  • Period: Renaissance
  • Dimensions: 77 cm × 53 cm (30 in × 21 in)
  • Location: Louvre in Paris, France
Overtourism Mona Lisa

Photo: Alessandro Colle /

How to visit the Louvre

The Louvre is the largest national museum in France and one of the largest art museums in the world. It’s located in Paris, in the 1st arrondissement and offers free entrance to all citizens from EU-countries under 26 years. 

If you’re older than 26 years, it’s recommended that you book a ticket in advance to skip the line.

If you want to learn more about the artworks and ensure that you don’t miss any of the important pieces, it’s recommended to join a guided tour, which also includes the ticket to the Louvre.


Photo: Netfalls Remy Musser /

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