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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Hansen

Artwork Explained #1: The Mona Lisa

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Today, we're starting a new series here on the blog: "Artwork Explained." With each of these more targeted visits, we'll take a "deep dive" into a French monument or work of art housed in French museum. Certainly, we'll examine some of France's most loved and famous works, but we'll also take a look at some hidden treasures that lie off the beaten path, but are very much worth exploring.

Let's start today with one of the most famous paintings in the world: the Mona Lisa. In this visit, we'll learn about who the subject of this little portrait is, why it's important for art history, and how it became a cultural icon.

As with the previous virtual visits, the primary venue for this content is the stories feature on my Instagram page. All of the virtual visits will be saved in my story highlights. The purpose of the blog posts is to allow a greater audience (especially those without social media accounts) to benefit from the same content.

With that in mind, let's dive in to La Joconde.

Et voila, the Mona Lisa, explained.

Of course, there's so much more to discuss about this portrait -- for example: the mystery of her smile (is she really smiling?); her true identity (is she really Lisa Gherardini, or did she evolve over time into an ideal woman rather than a specific person?); how literature helped shape our ideas of what the the painting means; and the way the image has been interpreted, reinterpreted, and manipulated since its theft in 1911.

If you'd like to take an even deeper dive into this enigmatic image, I'd highly suggest checking out Dr. Anna Goodman's fantastic 5-part podcast series on the Mona Lisa, accessible via her website, Art Is Not a Spectator Sport.

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