The most identifiable painting, and perhaps the most valuable work of art, is the Mona Lisa. It is a half-body portrait of a woman called Lisa completed at the height of the Renaissance period by the great Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. The painting was commissioned in the early 16th century by the woman’s husband, Francesco Del Giocondo. According to recent research, the painting was created to commemorate the construction of the couple’s new home as well as the arrival of their second-born son. Instead of painting on canvas, Da Vinci used oil on a cottonwood wall. There are many mesmerizing facts about the painting such as the life-like appearance of the image and the skill with which it was executed leaving no visible marks of the brush. Those subtle features among others have led to its reverence as a masterpiece. The painting which is preserved at the Louvre in France has survived for six centuries amidst theft and vandalism and is highly valuable and widely studied and its imager used extensively across the world. (Scaillierez, 2017)
The Mona Lisa’s fame has evolved into fame over the centuries primarily due to the mystery-enshrouded persona and known character of Leonardo da Vinci, the painter. The painting grew in fame as speculation increased regarding the symbolism that da Vinci may have roped into the art. For example, one of the most talked about aspect of the painting is the smile. Many people often examine the painting and speculate over the meaning of the smile. To some, the half-smile seems to emanate from some mischief, further leading to the speculation on what could have been mischievous about the model or the artist. Some other people interpret the smile as being a happy one while others consider it a sad smile. The varied interpretations consequently make the smile seem even more mysterious as one wonders why a smile that on the surface appears simple would convey a different meaning to different people. Da Vinci’s painting style also elicits more scrutiny on the smile since as one focuses on the eyes the smile is recognizable at the periphery, but as one focuses on the smile itself, it seems to disappear. (Billingsley, n.d.) As the painting’s and the painter’s reputations precede the work, Many people show interest in observing or examining the piece of art, which creates more enthusiasm about it. The intense interest is evident from the many people who travel long distances from all over the world to go and view the painting at the Louvre museum in Paris.
Besides the smile and the mystery, other factors have contributed to the immense fame of the painting albeit to a lesser degree. One reason is the unique technique employed by the painter while doing the work. Contrary to the usual technique where the painter used an outline, Da Vinci used none, and his style was known as the “sfumato” instead. The style, as well as the departure of the background from the usual monotone of the sky, were considered innovative and attracted the attention of art experts and enthusiasts. Other historical events such as the theft in 1911 and the subsequent considerably publicized search for it drew more attention to the piece. (Brown, 2017) However, these factors are minor and the mysterious smile and supposed imagery fuel the fame accredited to the painting.
The change in status over the years has not diminished the original painting. On the contrary, it has enhanced it since the interest has caused more detailed examination and study of the painting. Many people including those who lack expertise in the art of painting have endeavoured to appraise themselves on different aspects and themes of the painting thereby putting more artistic information in the public domain. The fame surrounding the painting has also enhanced its value in the art fraternity since it is a masterpiece laden with amazing painting style developed and aptly used by the great da Vinci.
The image of the Mona Lisa has been used in many occasions by companies to advertise their products. The advertisements are often pegged on widely acknowledged facts or themes regarding the painting. One such instance was the advertisement by the French telecommunication company, Orange, in 2013 as they advertised their travel services. The commercial sought to exploit the mystical notion of Mona Lisa’s eyes with the widely held belief that they follow an observer everywhere in the room. In the commercial, Mona Lisa is shown to wink at the viewers in the museum. (Dryden, 2013) Another example where the image was used in advertising was in the “3D Truth in Old Masters” advertisement by Samsung in 2007. The image of Mona Lisa is portrayed in 3D alongside other iconic pieces of art. (Samsung, 2011) The commercial aims to elicit the imagination of being able to visualize the curves on Mona Lisa’s face as would happen in 3D viewing.
Billingsley, B. (n.d.). goamazing.com. Retrieved from http://www.esscont.com/goamazing/articles/z-monalisa.htm
Brown, L. (2017, February 12). The Mystery of the Mona Lisa. Jstor Daily. Retrieved from https://daily.jstor.org/mona-lisa-mystery/
Dryden, R. (2013). Mona Lisa Orange Telecommunications TV Commercial Ad [Video file]. Retrieved from http://nnrd.yaozhudai.xyz/42M-FXVkkTE/Mona_Lisa_Orange_Telecommunications_TV_Commercial_Ad/showsplayers.html
Samsung. (2011, August 28). the 3D truth in old masters, funny 3d ads from Samsung [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUzixe6iAwU
Scaillierez, C. (2017). Mona Lisa – Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo | Louvre Museum | Paris. Retrieved from http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/mona-lisa-portrait-lisa-gherardini-wife-francesco-del-giocondo