She has a mysterious smile and has eyes that look directly at you no matter where you stand. She’s none other than the world’s most mystifying woman, Mona Lisa; one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works, also known as La Gioconda. This 860 million dollar painting now adorns the walls of the esteemed French museum, The Louvre. Whether it’s the hundreds of documentaries or Dan Brown’s New York Times bestseller Da Vinci code, the painting continues to bewitch art enthusiasts, historians, and even novelists as of late. With such widespread influence, it’s safe to say that Da Vinci was not just a painter but rather a scientist of art who hid several details in his paintings that historians and professionals are yet to decode.
Since the painting first arrived in the Louvre in 1815, Lisa has received several love letters and flowers from admirers; she even has a mailbox! The Mona Lisa’s fame was galvanized in 1911 by a mysterious theft which led to the painting being absent from the Louvre for two years. This incident led to its valuation shooting up manifold.
For a painting of such prominence, the Mona Lisa only came into being because of a commission from a wealthy cloth merchant by the name of Francesco del Giocondo in the early 1500s. The mysterious woman in the painting was supposed to be his wife, Lisa Gherardini. However, the painting never reached him; it travelled to France with Da Vinci, which is where he ended up completing it. Present-day historians even believe that it could be a self-portrait of Da Vinci himself! He passed away in 1519, a few years after the painting was completed, and was buried in a French castle. Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage is currently undertaking an investigation that plans to uncover his remains and rebuild his face using CSI tech. Will he resemble the mysterious Mona Lisa? Only time will tell.
In 2010, a scholar named Silvano Vinceti claimed to have found the letter S painted in the woman's left eye. He also insisted that the letter L was painted into her right eye and that the number 72 was inscribed under the arched bridge in the backdrop of the masterpiece. According to Vinceti, the L likely stands for da Vinci's first name, and the 72 could be referencing significant numbers in Christianity and Judaism. The importance of this number stems from the belief that the number 7 is associated with the creation of the world, and the number 2 could refer to the duality of men and women.
It’s baffling to think that there are encrypted alphanumeric messages in such a historic painting. Unfortunately, it has been vandalized several times before, even having withstood an acid attack in the past, and although now restored, the damage is still significantly visible. Perhaps we will never really know the truth behind the painting and the messages it held.