Better Know the Mona Lisa | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios | Summary and Q&A

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April 6, 2017
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The Art Assignment
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Better Know the Mona Lisa | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

TL;DR

Leonardo da Vinci's iconic portrait, the Mona Lisa, continues to captivate audiences worldwide, with its mysterious smile and rich history.

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Key Insights

  • ✋ The Mona Lisa's enduring fame can be attributed to its status as a masterpiece and its long history, including a high-profile theft and being shuffled around during World War II.
  • 😒 Leonardo da Vinci's use of the "sfumato" technique adds to the painting's mystery and softness.
  • 🇲🇨 The Mona Lisa has inspired countless reproductions, interpretations, and merchandise, solidifying its status as an iconic image.
  • 🤕 The painting continues to capture the public's imagination in the age of the internet, where it is widely reproduced and referenced.

Transcript

NARRATOR: Jay-Z and Beyonce posed with her. Kardashians posed with her. So did Tony Danza, Cara Delevingne, even Richard Simmons. Nat King Cole sang about her; so did will.i.am. She was famously stolen in 1911. Marcel Duchamp parodied her in 1919. Someone more recently made a towel out of her. But who is she? Why, after centuries, do we continue to... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Who was the likely subject of the Mona Lisa?

The subject of the Mona Lisa is believed to be Lisa del Giocondo, a Florentine woman who married a cloth merchant. She was around 24 years old when the portrait was painted.

Q: How did the Mona Lisa end up in the Louvre?

After Leonardo da Vinci's death in 1519, the painting became the property of King Francois I of France. It eventually made its way to the Louvre in the late 18th century and has remained there ever since, except for brief periods during World War II.

Q: What is the technique used by da Vinci in the Mona Lisa?

Leonardo da Vinci employed a technique called "sfumato" in the Mona Lisa, which creates a smoky haziness and a soft, atmospheric effect around the subject's features.

Q: Is the Mona Lisa's smile genuinely happy?

Researchers analyzing the Mona Lisa's facial expression using emotion-recognition software found that her smile is 83% happy, suggesting a knowingness and resilience in the face of turbulent times.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance, likely commissioned by Lisa del Giocondo and her husband Francesco.

  • The painting remained in da Vinci's possession until his death and later became the property of King Francois I of France.

  • Despite being stolen and shuffled around during World War II, the Mona Lisa has been displayed in the Louvre and has become one of the most famous artworks in the world.

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