Why Is the Monna Lisa So Famous?

Spoiler alert: I am still not sure

I could go on and on about this painting for two hours, but I don’t want to lose your interest. This article will be ten times shorter than the waiting line to just take a selfie with the most famous Italian lady. “Why is the Mona Lisa so famous? ”  I’m still not sure, but let’s try to light this lantern in the back of your brain.

I always begin by asking a very basic question when we first enter the Louvre’s Monna Lisa gallery: Do you recognize this painting? Usually, people laugh and say, “Of course Johanna!” Then, when I question “why,” they frightenedly respond, “Well, it’s the Monna Lisa.” Thank you; I agree. But how do you know it, and why? They usually say, “Thanks to the book, Beyonce, and Instagram.”

How did we get there? How did the Monna Lisa turn into such an art icon?

We need to travel all the way back to 1911 in the XXth century to get the answer to that question. At that time, the Joconde was a piece of the royal collection, had already been on display at the Louvre, and wasn’t the star of the museum. 

The antique statues and sculptures were the star of the Louvre. But something happened in 1911. Two young artists visited the Louvre one day to make a copy of the Monna Lisa. But, the painting wasn’t there when they got close to it; it had disappeared.

No one knew where the Monna Lisa was.  Before the museum realized that the Monna Lisa had been stolen, two days had passed.  And of course, all the media, newspapers were talking about this! It was on the cover of the magazines

The magazines’ covers featured it. People followed the investigations for the entire two years they lasted, like we follow a TV show today. Finally, in 1913, the picture was found in Italy.

The Mona Lisa was stolen by Vincenzo Perugia, a museum worker, who claimed that since it was an Italian painting, it belonged there and should be returned as part of the Italian heritage

He attempted to sell it to an Italian businessman but was discovered in this way. After a few months in prison, he was released, and the incident was forgotten. Since then, people from all over the world have come to Paris to see the painting which has disappeared for two years.

What is the value of the Mona Lisa?

In 1962, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci was insured for a $100 million premium.

Inflation-adjusted, this amount is equivalent to more than $867 million in 2021.

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