Why is the Mona Lisa Famous?

mona lisa replica

This fine art replica oil painting of The Mona Lisa is hand painted by Fabulous Masterpieces

Why is the Mona Lisa famous?

The Mona Lisa is the most famous painting on the planet. When the Mona Lisa went on tour to Tokyo viewers were only allowed 10 seconds each to view it. When the Mona Lisa went on loan to New York, 1.6 million people went to see it. The Louvre where it is housed now estimates that 80% of its visitors purely come to see the Mona Lisa. But what’s the big deal? Sure, it’s a nice enough painting but why all the fuss?


Reasons why the Mona Lisa is Famous

1. In 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen. When it was finally recovered, the painting had so much publicity surrounding it that it was bound to be famous, as it still is to this date. The theft of the Mona Lisa was widely reported in the newspapers. The popular press of that time, including Le Petit Parisien, began to claim that Mona Lisa was a part of France’s national heritage and then only once it was recovered in 1913, did it gather the attention and awe it has at the level we understand today.  Once it was recovered the Mona Lisa went on a world tour in which it gathered even more fame, (it wasn’t returned to the Louvre until 1917) a PR masterpiece!


2. Leonardo da Vinci used a painting technique called sfumato. He drew one layer, waited for the paint to dry and then drew over it, again and again. A very tedious process where the paint/pigment is applied in thin layers.  Only a few painters have ever mastered this technique.  We’ve all heard  about the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile, her half-smile has puzzled people from Sigmund Freud , academics to no doubt nearly every person who has set eyes on it. Da Vinci used sfumato to soften the outlines of the mouth, so there’s no clear line between the lips and the rest of the face. When a viewer focuses on the subject’s eyes, the sfumato technique creates the illusion of the lips slanting upward. But when you look at her lips themselves, they seem somewhat pursed. That’s why the Mona Lisa seems to smile more when you’re not looking at her mouth. This is definitely a reason why the Mona Lisa is said to be famous, her smile changes depending on where you look.

3. In 1963, the Mona Lisa was appraised at $100 million for insurance purposes, that was over 50 years ago.  The Mona Lisa is considered priceless.

4. Dan Brown’s novels with his conspiracy theories no doubt have added to the Mona Lisa’s notoriety.

5. World renowned Leonardo da Vinci painted it.

6. The Mona Lisa differs from other portraits painted at the time. The Mona Lisa is  painted in a three-quarter pose without jewellery. Most Renaissance style portraits were painted in a complete profile view, with a very stoic expression (definitely not smiling) and with the sitter portrayed with all of their finery. The Mona Lisa on the other hand is painted without furs, jewellery etc.

7. The Mona Lisa was one of the first portraits to depict the sitter in front of an imaginary landscape.

I’ve listed 7 reasons why the Mona Lisa is famous but ultimately I think the main reason why it has achieved the levels of fame that we see today is because of its theft in 1911. An Italian man called Vincenzo Perugia and the brothers Lancelotti, Vincenzo and Michele, stole the Mona Lisa in August 1911. It took the Louvre over 24 hours to even realise it was missing. Hardly what you would expect if it was a revered world-famous masterpiece, which it certainly wasn’t back then. At the time in 1911 the Mona Lisa was certainly not the most visited painting in the museum.  However, as soon as the painting was stolen conspiracy theories sprung up and even after it was found nobody could quite understand how a few Italian carpenters could have pulled this theft off. It took 2 years for Perugia to be arrested and this was only because he tried to sell the Mona Lisa to an art dealer who then called the police. Perugia was found guilty and sentenced to just 8 months in jail. Pablo Picasso was even arrested and questioned about the missing painting. I believe this theft and the massive publicity surounding it helped to make the Mona Lisa one of the most famous paintings on the planet.


Who are we?

art reproduction

We’re a fine art reproduction company called Fabulous Masterpieces based in London UK that solely concentrates on painting high quality reproduction oil paintings.  We’ve even produced a magazine on the topic to help you out if you want to learn more about fine art copies. Just click on the image above.


Have an art reproduction question?

mona lisa art replica

Above is Fabulous Masterpieces’ fine art reproduction of the Mona Lisa, that one of our artists has painstakingly hand painted. If you have a question about art reproduction or the Mona Lisa, we’d love to hear from you! If you would like to add something,  or ask a question concerning our art reproductions please email [email protected] or leave a comment.

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