Le Musée du Louvre

La Joconde

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La Joconde, or the Mona Lisa, is arguably the most famous painting in the Louvre.  It might even be the most famous painting in the world!


La Joconde was painted by Leonardo de Vinci, an Italian Renaissance painter, found on the second floor, room 6.  The Mona Lisa is a small portrait of a Florentine noblewoman.  Her constant smile is encased behind a bullet-proof glass and will probably be surrounded by a large number of tourists.

Leonardo brought this picture with him when he came to France from Italy in 1516.  The Mona Lisa may have been the wife of Francesco de Giocondo, a leading citizen of Florence.  She is probably much smaller than you had probably imagined.  The smile is intriguing because the corners of her mouth and eyes fit into the same circle and make you look from one to the other.  Notice how she follows you around the room, her eyes moving with you. 

  Leonardo was a great inventor, always experimenting with new techniques.  It is belived that he achieved Mona Lisa's look with a secret mixture of turpentine, white lead, linseed oil, and varnish.  He built up many layers of extremely thin glazes so that all the lines and hard edges disappear and light blends magically into shade.  This effect is called "sfumato."  Look at the dream-like background.  Can you see the bridge?