Tourists crowd around the Mona Lisa at the Louvre museum in Paris
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings in the world.
The art piece currently holds the Guinness World Record for Highest insurance valuation for a painting ($100,000,000, roughly £74,380,000) which it was awarded on December 14, 1962.
It currently hangs in the Louvre museum, in Paris, and has been on display there since 1797.
It was painted in 1503 or 1504 in Florence, Italy, in the final years of the artist’s life and is believed to be of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo of Florence, with the name roughly translating to ‘Madam Lisa’ or ‘My Lady Lisa’.
It is believed Francesco commissioned the portrait to celebrate either his wife’s pregnancy or the purchase of a house around 1502 and 1503.
After his death, Gherardini became a nun. She died in 1542 at the age of 63 and was said to be buried near the Sant’Orsola convent’s altar.
The Mona Lisa was stolen on August 21, 1911 by employee Vincenzo Peruggi, who believed the painting should have been returned for display in an Italian museum. After the theft, its notoriety increased and it was hailed as a masterpiece.
Since then, it has been vandalised numerous times, prompting the museum to encase it in bullet proof glass.
Da Vinci was said to be inspired by this style of portraiture. Above is ‘Portrait Of A Young Woman’ by Lorenzo Di Credi, C1495
According to author Frank Zöllner, the Mona Lisa is said to bear a resemblance to Renaissance depictions of the Virgin Mary, who was an inspirational figure to women during Renaissance times.
Her expression in the painting has been the subject for debate by art historians for decades. Many have insisted that she is seen smiling, while others say the more you look at her, she appears to be sneering.
However, researchers at the University of Freiburg claim that she is smiling after conducting a trial.
Using a black and white copy of the early 16th century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, a team manipulated the model’s mouth corners slightly up and down to create eight altered images – four marginally but progressively ‘happier’, and four ‘sadder’ Mona Lisas.
A block of nine images were shown to 12 trial participants 30 times. The researchers found that her expression was perceived as ‘happy’ in 97 per cent of cases.