Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece the Mona Lisa has been the subject of fascination for years. Her enigmatic smile, the eyes that follow you wherever you go and the fact that such a small painting is still so famous are all subjects of intrigue. These facts about the Mona Lisa may surprise you, but they’ll give you even greater insight into the artwork that still draws in millions of art buffs every year.
A painting with a difference
The Mona Lisa is not painted on canvas and instead, is painted on a poplar plank. This may surprise many, but as da Vinci was accustomed to painting on huge expanses of wall and ceiling, planks may have been far more practical, and a more comfortable option. Although canvas was available at the time, many Renaissance painters preferred wood, so it is not too surprising that da Vinci did too.
Dynamite comes in small packages
The Mona Lisa has her own room in The Louvre Museum in Paris, but this doesn’t mean she takes up most of it. In fact, the painting is actually rather small, and many are shocked by just how tiny it is. Measuring just 77 cm x 53 cm, the Mona Lisa is hardly on the large side, but as it is so valuable it is housed in a case of shatterproof glass that maintains a temperature of exactly 43 degrees Fahrenheit all year round.
Not for sale
As per French heritage law, the Mona Lisa cannot be bought or sold. This means that even if you land a jackpot at River Belle Casino, you won’t be able to take her home with you. You can however view her at the Louvre, as the painting belongs to the public and on display all year round.
Fans and foes
Ever since the painting was first displayed in 1815 at the Louvre, the Mona Lisa has had her fans. She regularly receives flowers and letters from admirers and even has a mailbox for these attentions, although today it is more likely an email address! But not everyone is enamoured with her, and over the years vandals have tried to destroy da Vinci’s masterpiece. She’s been assaulted with acid, a coffee cup, spray paint and a rock, but she still lives on.
A Stolen treasure
While the Mona Lisa was always recognized as a masterpiece it wasn’t that popular with the public until it was stolen in 1911. After 2 years the painting was returned to the Louvre and the whole world breathed a sigh of relief.
In her eyes
While there have been several theories over the years as to how her eyes follow you around, the truth is its simply a good painting technique and that da Vinci was just good at what he did. In 2010 the Italian National Committee for Cultural Heritage discovered that the eyes did hold one anomaly, and this was that the artists initials appear in her right eye.