The Mona Lisa is a painting in oil made by Leonardo da Vinci (size 77 X 53 cm). He painted it in Florence between 1503 and 1506, but the artist continued working on it until he died, in 1519. It is considered, with The Last Supper, Leonardo’s masterpiece. The Mona Lisa seduces critics and the public with her inscrutable smile and the rarefied atmosphere of the landscape, that could be in the surroundings of Arezzo. We are not sure about the identity of the painted woman. The most accredited theory, confirmed by Vasari, painter and biographer of the 500, is that she is Lisa Gherardini, wife of the merchant Francesco Bartolomeo del Giocondo from Florence. Some historians think that the real customer of the work is the Lisa’s lover, identified in Giuliano de’ Medici, son of the prince Lorenzo the Magnificent. The painting has been guarded by Giuliano until 1515 and then he gave it back to Leonardo when the noble married Filiberta di Savoia.
Two years later, the painter moved in France, bringing it with him. The figure and the landscape seem to be fused together, thanks to Leonardo’s technique of the sfumato. Some people think that the painting represented Leonardo’s philosophy, and so the fact that man and nature are connected in a perfect harmony. Thanks to recent exams with the X-Ray, it has been discovered that originally the woman’s head was covered by a veil, traditionally used by pregnant women. This would explain her mysterious smile and the hands on her belly. Someone, making superimpositions with computers, says that it could be a feminine self-portrait of the author. Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychoanalyst from the early ‘900, thought that the woman is Leonardo’s dead mother, Caterina. Certainly Leonardo had a special attachment to this painting. He brought it with him when he moved to France, to Amboise, invited by king Francis I. When Leonardo died, the tracks of the painting got lost: researchers are still reconstructing the historic events.
The most accredited theory is that the painting was bought by Francis I. But from recent documents it emerged that it returned to Italy with one of the two pupils of Leonardo, Salaino or Melzi. Only later it was brought back to France where it was exhibited at the the Louvre Museum since 1804. In 1911 it was stolen from this museum. The thief was an Italian workman, Vincenzo Peruggia, who wanted to bring the work back to Italy for patriotism. The work was found in Florence two years later and it was brought back to France. The Mona Lisa is now exhibited in the Louvre Museum in Paris.