Millions of people flock to see her and they know not why. An ineffable something compels them to see her, and many endure long lines and crowded spaces merely to catch a glimpse of her. Once they see her they are probably underwhelmed because the idea was more grandiose than the real thing.
We might as well have been referring to the rich heiress who has recently been usurped by the Kardashians in tabloid fame, but, alas, we’re actually referring to another young lady whose fame has endured centuries, the Mona Lisa. And, despite this long-lived fame, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who could explain to you exactly why she is famous. It’s her enigmatic smile say some, or her curiously eyebrow-less visage, or perhaps the geometrical composition of the painting, or even the controversial identity of the subject.
It’s actually much simpler (via a comment by wisard on Reddit):
- Leonardo Da Vinci painted it. He is the foremost Renaissance artist. Artist’s credibility adds to the paintings popularity.
- Napoleon Bonaparte hung the painting in his master bedroom in 1800. This – I think – was the first tipping point of making the painting one of the most popular paintings in the world.
- 1804, Mona Lisa is hung in the Louvre – and others can now glimpse at the painting that Napoleon slept with.
- But the real tipping point for the paintings popularity only hit in August of 1911 – when Mona Lisa is stolen. Stolen from heavily secured Louvre which experts said was impossible. No one knows who stole it or how. Conspiracy theories abound. The painting is talked about in every newspaper.
- After 2 weeks of much fan fare, Police arrest Guillaume Apollinaire on suspicion of theft. He is the only person they have arrested. Apollinaire implicates Pablo Picasso. The rumor of Picasso stealing the Mona Lisa adds in a lot more fuel in making Mona Lisa very very popular.
- Picasso is questioned and released. Guillaume Apollinaire himself is released after 5 days. Everyone is still clueless as to who stole the painting. But conspiracy theories abound.
- Two years after the theft, the Mona Lisa is finally found when an employee working at Louvre tries to sell it to an art gallery in Florence for $100,000.
- When the Mona Lisa is returned to the Louvre, it draws massive crowds. People visit the Louvre only to see this one painting.
- And then it hit the Paris Hilton effect. Its popularity added to its popularity. So much so that most people don’t know why it is popular in the first place.
That’s just about the best explanation ever. Why do you think the Mona Lisa is famous?
Tags: mona lisa