Leonardo and the MONA LISALeonardo da Vinci was a genius. He was a painter, philosopher, scientist, and inventor. Heinvented the parachute in 1480, sketched a design for a submarine and made detailed studies ofthe human anatomy. He believed that sight was the most important of the senses and hecarefully studied the world around him, keeping detailed notes of what he saw. Strangelyenough, he wrote his notes backwards, so that they must be held to a mirror to be read. Leonard wouldn’t settle for a painting that was less than perfect. He would spendyears working on a single painting, so he didn’t produce many works. In fact, only 17 of hispaintings have survived, and some of these are not finished. Leonardo spent four years painting “The Mona Lisa”. It’s his most famous painting-infact, it’s the most famous painting in the world. You’ve probably seen “The Mona Lisa” before-inadvertisements or on tee shirts. No one is sure who the model for “The Mona Lisa” was. She’s thought to have beenthe wife of a merchant named Francesco del Giocondo, so the painting is more correctly knownas The Gioconda. What’s so special about “The Mona Lisa”? Many things. It’s a skillful painting thatdemonstrates Leonardo’s talent as an artist. It’s also an eerie combination of a real-lookingwoman against a fairytale background. Especially, it’s that mystic smile - a hint of a smile that’skept people talking for nearly 500 years. If “The Mona Lisa” were the only painting that Leonardo painted, the artist would stillbe called a genius. Leonard Da Vinci painted “The Mona Lisa” between the years 1503-1506. It hasbecome the top attraction of visitors to the Louvre museum in Paris, France. There are manyfacts about the painting that most people do not know.
“The Mona Lisa” is only 30x21 which is quite small. It is painted with oils on a poplar woodenpanel. The true identity of the Mona Lisa is a mystery but most experts believe it was the wife ofa 16-century Italian businessman, who commissioned the portrait. In 1517 Leonardo was invited to live in France by King Francis I. After the kingpurchased it from Leonardo it became a part of France’s royal collection and that is how it gotinto the Louvre. Not many people know that the “Mona Lisa” was stolen. On, Monday, the 21st ofAugust 1911 it was taken from the Louvre. The museum employees did notice that the paintingwas not hanging in its usual place but they assumed the painting was taken by the museumphotographer to his studio for shooting. When it wasn’t returned the next morning and wasn’tfound in the photographer’s studio, museum officials were notified that the painting was stolen. After the police were notified the whole museum was searched, which took a weekbecause the Louvre covers 49 acres and runs along the Seine River for 2,200 feet. The only thingfound was the heavy frame that once held the Mona Lisa. It was found in a staircase leading to acloakroom. Once the news became public, French newspapers made several claims as to thenature of the theft. One newspaper proclaimed that an American collector stole the work andwould have an exact copy made which would be returned to the museum. This collector wouldthen keep the original. Another newspaper said that the entire incident was a hoax to show howeasy it was to steal from the Louvre.
Many people were questioned about the theft. Pablo Picasso was questioned. He had boughttwo stone sculptures from a friend named Pieret. Pieret had stolen these from the Louvremonths before the Mona Lisa was stolen. Picasso though the perhaps Pieret might have stolenthe Mona Lisa. Picasso gave back the sculptures back to the Louvre once he found out they werestolen and was cleared of knowing anything about the theft. Twenty seven months after the “Mona Lisa” was stolen it was recovered. An Italianman named Vincenzo Perugia tried to sell it for $100,000 to the Uffizi Gallery. He said he stole itout of patriotism. He didn’t believe such a famous Italian work of art should be in France. WhatPerugia didn’t know was that it was sold to King Francis I for 4,000 gold coins by Leonardohimself, so it rightfully belonged to the French people. Perugia stole the Mona Lisa by spending the night before hiding in an obscure littleroom. In the morning while the museum was closed he took the painting from the wall. In astaircase he cut the painting from it’s frame. He came upon a locked door on his way out andremoved the doorknob to leave the Louvre. Ten months before the painting was stolen the Louvre decided to have allmasterpieces put under glass and Perugia was one of the men assigned to the job. In 1974 the Japanese Government encased the Mona Lisa in a 157x98 inch box oftriplex bulletproof glass. This box is kept at a constant 68 degrees and 55% humidity by a built inair conditioner. Each year the Mona Lisa’s box is given a check up to make sure it is workingproperly.
Instructions for “Mona”Portrait1. Review the examples of the Mona Lisa.2. Using the line drawing as a guide, create a “Mona Lisa” in another style than “Realism”.3.Review the examples following these instructions.4.You can paint or drawing your “Mona”, but your medium should match the style.5.Label the style you used.
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