5 Things You Didn't Know About The "Mona Lisa"

On August 21, 1911, the Mona Lisa, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works of art, was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Mona Lisa.


France Went Into Mourning When the Painting Was Stolen Three Italian men, who had spent an uncomfortable night in a museum closet, walked out with the Mona Lisa on August 21, 1911. They had pulled the painting from its heavy frame and protective glass, wrapped it in a blanket, and just walked out the door. This bold theft made the painting famous worldwide and sent the French into mourning until its recovery 28 months later when the thieves tried to sell it.

"Mona Lisa" Is Not Her Name The subject of the painting is believed to be of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, who commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to paint it around 1503. This explains the less prevalent title for the painting, La Gioconda, or La Joconde in French. The name Mona Lisa (or Monna Lisa, as the Italians prefer) roughly translates to "My Lady Lisa." Da Vinci didn’t name the portrait or even finish it because he died in 1519, and it was left to an assistant to complete.


Mona Lisa Is Smaller Than You Might Expect When people view the Mona Lisa, they expect it to be much larger than its actual size of 21 inches by 30 inches. Painted in oil on a wood panel, it weighs 18 pounds. However, the encasement around the painting to protect it and constructed of glass and wood brings the weight up to around 200 pounds.

There Was Speculation on Why the Mona Lisa Had No Eyebrows Over the years, some have said that the Mona Lisa’s missing eyebrows is representative of high-class fashion of the time. Others have said it shows that da Vinci didn’t finish the painting because he died before it was completed. In 2007, an ultra-detailed digital scan of the painting showed that she did have bolder eyelashes and eyebrows at one time, but they had either faded or been covered over due to restoration.

The Bulletproof Glass Was Added for a Reason If you look very closely at the subject's left elbow, you will notice some damage done by Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a Bolivian man who threw a rock at the portrait in 1956.  It had been damaged several months earlier by a vandal who threw acid on it. This inspired the addition of bulletproof glass, which protected the painting when a Russian woman whose French citizenship had been denied threw a ceramic mug at it.