Why is the Mona Lisa so famous?


I get that it’s well done but, there’s a lot of well since paintings from the renaissance

In: Culture

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It wasn’t a particularly interesting piece of art for most of its life. It was a da Vinci, so it was famous for its artist, but the piece itself wasn’t special.

That is, until it was stolen in 1911. It was stolen from the Louvre and the theft became an instant media sensation that would make a Kardashian sex tape like impact. Everyone knew the painting now! It was recovered two years later and by then had achieved massive fame.

Tl;dr: it became famous because it was stolen and the news made a big story out of it.


Leonardo DaVinci is one of the most famous artists with not a huge catalog left behind (lots and lots of unfinished pieces, but about 15 actually officially attributed to him). He’s mentioned extensively in Renaissance contemporary lit of the time as one of the biggest art celebrities of the time, and was one of many famous artists to come out of a particular studio.

While the Mona Lisa isn’t even close to the best of the art of the time, it has a rep because legend has it that it’s actually a self-portrait or of a lover or any other thing. She’s got that half-smile and we don’t know who he’s actually depicting and why. But it really gained panache as a thing when it was stolen from the Louvre. Because of this, it was reproduced (to find it) and led a lot of people to speculate about who she was and why he painted it, and so on. The painting was recovered mainly because it was distinctive and well-known enough to be too hot to fence.