Mona Lisa oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci at the age of 51

made out of oil paint and white lombardy poplar panel sometime before 1503

76.8 x 53 cms (30 x 203/4 ins)

The Louvre Paris, France, Europe

now closed opens again on Saturday at 09:00 more info

No description at this time.


Art from the same year

Art by artists at the same age


Near-Monochrome Palette see all

Plastic Perception see all

Pyramidal Composition see all

Sfumato see all


Leonardo da Vinci begins painting the Mona Lisa and works on it on and off for the next thirteen years. Walter Pater gives an immortal description in a passage from The Renaissance.


Leonardo da Vinci had musicians play music to entertain Lisa when painting her portrait.


Leonardo da Vinci finishes working on the Mona Lisa.


King Francoise I buys the Mona Lisa for 4,000 écus and keeps it at Palace of Fontainebleau.
Leonardo da Vinci takes the Mona Lisa with him on his journey to his final residence at a chateaux in Amboise.


Leonardo da Vinci wills the Mona Lisa to his lifelong assistant, Giocomo Salai.


King Louis XIV moves the Mona Lisa to the Palace of Versailles.



Mona Lisa is moved to the Louvre after the French Revolution, but spends a brief period in the bedroom of Napoleon in the Tuileries Palace.


The Mona Lisa is restored by Jean-Marie Hooghstoel, who is responsible for restoration of paintings for the galleries of the Musée Napoléon. A wash and revarnishing is undertaken, which involves cleaning with spirits, a touch-up of colour, and a revarnish.


Two butterfly-shaped walnut braces are inserted into the back of the panel of the Mona Lisa to a depth of about 1/3 the thickness of the panel. This intervention is was skillfully executed, and successfully stabilized the crack that had been forming in it.


During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) the Mona Lisa is moved from the Louvre to the Brest Arsenal.


The upper brace of the Mona Lisa panel falls out. A later restorer glues and lines the resulting socket and crack with cloth.


Louvre restorer Eugène Denizard performs watercolour retouches on areas of the paint layer of the Mona Lisa disturbed by the crack in the panel. He also retouches the edges of the picture with varnish, to mask areas that were covered initially by an older frame.


The Comtesse de Béhague gives the Mona Lisa its current frame, a Renaissance-era work consistent with the portrait's historical period.


August 21

Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre by Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia and is missing for two years.


Vincenzo Peruggia attempts to sell the Mona Lisa to the directors of the Uffizi, and is caught. The painting is exhibited around Italy for two years before being returned to the Louvre.
After the return of the Mona Lisa after its theft, Eugène Denizard is again called upon to work on the painting. Denizard cleans the picture without solvent, and lightly touches up several scratches to the painting with watercolour.


Uffizi returns the Mona Lisa to the Louvre.


During World War II, the Mona Lisa is again removed from the Louvre and taken for safety first to Château d'Amboise, then to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and Château de Chambord, then finally to the Musée Ingres in Montauban.


A flexible oak frame with beech crosspieces is added to the Mona Lisa. This flexible frame, which is used in addition to the decorative frame, exerts pressure on the panel to keep it from warping further.


Part of the Mona Lisa is damaged when a vandal throws acid at it.

December 30

The Mona Lisa is damaged again when a rock was thrown at it, resulting in the loss of a speck of pigment near the left elbow. Restorer Jean-Gabriel Goulinat touches up the damage with watercolour.


Cross braces are added to the Mona Lisa to help to keep the panel from warping further. The beech crosspieces are switched to maple after it is found that the beechwood has been infested with insects.


A new insect infestation is discovered in the back of the panel of the Mona Lisa as a result of crosspieces installed to keep the painting from warping. This is treated on the spot with carbon tetrachloride, and later with an ethylene oxide treatment.


The spot on the back panel of the Mona Lisa damaged by insect infestation is again treated with carbon tetrachloride as a preventive measure.


A conservation and study team replaces the maple crosspieces of the Mona Lisa with sycamore ones, and an additional metal crosspiece is added for scientific measurement of the panel's warp.


April 6

The Mona Lisa is moved to a new location within the Louvre's Salle des États. It is displayed in a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure behind bulletproof glass. The humidity is maintained at 50% ±10%, and the temperature is maintained between 18 and 21 °C. To compensate for fluctuations in relative humidity, the case is supplemented with a bed of silica gel treated to provide 55% relative humidity. The painting is now illuminated by an LED lamp.


A new 20 watt LED lamp is installed, specially designed for the Mona Lisa. The lamp has a Colour Rendering Index up to 98, and minimizes infrared and ultraviolet radiation which could otherwise degrade the painting.


Leonardo da Vinci begins painting the Mona Lisa and works on it on and off for the next thirteen years. Walter Pater gives an immortal description in a passage from _The Renaissance_.
Michelangelo is commissioned to paint a mural, The Battle of Cascina, in the council hall of the Palazzo Vecchio.
The pocket handkerchief comes into general use in polite European society.
Leonardo da Vinci returns to Florence where he is commissioned to paint a mural, The Battle of Anghiari, in the council hall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio.
As a child, Benvenuto Cellini plays with a scorpion he finds near a water-pipe and is narrowly rescued from being stung by his father, who cuts off its head and tail with a pair of scissors.

May 13

Naples is captured by the Spanish.

July 3

Extract a cover letter from Leonardo da Vinci to Sultan Bejazet (or Beyazid) II offering his services. This is dated by Charles Nicholl to July 3, 1503. > I, your servant, have heard about your intention to build a bridge from Stanboul to Galata, and that you have not done it because no man can be found capable of it. I, your servant, know how. I would raise it to the height of a building, so that no one can pass over it because it is so high ... I will make it so that a ship can pass under it even with its sails hoisted.... I would have a drawbridge so that when one wants one can pass on to the Anatolian coast.... May God make you believe these words, and consider this servant of yours always at your service.

July 23

Orbital calculations suggest that on this day, Pluto moves outside Neptune's orbit, remaining there for 233 years.

October 18

October 24

Leonardo da Vinci is assigned the Sala del Papa in S. Maria Novella to begin work on the cartoon for the Battle of Anghiari.

November 1

Cardinal della Rovere is elected to the papacy, and is known as Pope Julius II.

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people and entities

Benvenuto Cellini sculptor, goldsmith, draughtstman, flautist, soldier, writer, poet
Guild of Saint Luke painters guild
Leonardo da Vinci anatomist, painter, architect, sculptor, military engineer, scientist, inventor, writer
Michelangelo military engineer, sculptor, painter, architect, poet
Pope Julius II pope, cardinal


Walter Horatio Pater (1839-1894) English art critic, writer

Description of the Mona Lisa

The presence that rose thus so strangely beside the waters, is expressive of what in the ways of a thousand years men had come to desire. Hers is the head upon which all "the ends of the world are come," and the eyelids are a little weary. It is a beauty wrought out from within upon the flesh, the deposit, little cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite passions. Set it for a moment beside one of those white Greek goddesses or beautiful women of antiquity, and how would they be troubled by this beauty, into which the soul with all its maladies has passed! All the thoughts and experience of the world have etched and moulded there, in that which they have of power to refine and make expressive the outward form, the animalism of Greece, the lust of Rome, the mysticism of the middle age with its spiritual ambition and imaginative loves, the return of the Pagan world, the sins of the Borgias. She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave; and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her; and trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants: and, as Leda, was the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne, the mother of Mary; and all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives only in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing lineaments, and tinged the eyelids and the hands. The fancy of a perpetual life, sweeping together ten thousand experiences, is an old one; and modern philosophy has conceived the idea of humanity as wrought upon by, and summing up in itself all modes of thought and life. Certainly Lady Lisa might stand as the embodiment of the old fancy, the symbol of the modern idea.

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