The Mona Lisa

WHO WAs da vinci?

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter from the High Renaissance. He was known as a genius and polymath; he was an artist, scientist, engineer, draughtsman, architect, and sculptor.

historical overview

The famous portrait painting is also titled the Italian “La Gioconda” and the French “La Joconde”, which translates to “jocund” or “jovial”.

a new take

Leonardo da Vinci, who painted the Mona Lisa, depicted the half-length portrait in a new way compared to the common profile (side) formats of portrait paintings.

interesting facts

The Mona Lisa has been stolen and vandalized on several occasions. In 1911, she was stolen by the Italian Vincenzo Peruggia, who worked at the Louvre and wanted to return it to its rightful place in Italy.

pop culture

From starting as an icon of portraiture during the Renaissance era to the burgeoning overstimulation of imagery and information in the 21st century, the Mona Lisa become an icon of pop culture.

subject matter

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci depicts a portrait of a woman sitting in an armchair (the armchair is known as a “pozzetto” chair); her body is mostly turned facing us, the viewers.


The Mona Lisa painting has faded in color over the years due to natural discoloration of the oil paint, which has left it in yellowed and brown hues.


If we look at the tactile texture of the Mona Lisa painting, the oil paint creates a smooth texture over the composition. Da Vinci applied the sfumato technique.


Because the Mona Lisa painting is a portrait, the orientation is vertical, which gives it implied vertical linearity.

shape and form

The Mona Lisa painting appears mostly organic in its shape and form, which further heightens the naturalism. This is evident in the figure of Mona Lisa herself.


Leonardo da Vinci utilized aerial or atmospheric perspective to give the illusion of depth and three-dimensional space. This was done by creating a hazy or blurred background.

objectified icon

It is important to note that there is extensive research and conjecture around the Mona Lisa painting, from there being several copies, if the landscape is in fact real or fictional, to the identity of the sitter herself, some believe it was Salaì and others believe it could have been Leonardo da Vinci’s mother. The Mona Lisa has become a “celebrity” among paintings, the object of many affections and outrages.