x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The trivia behind the Mona Lisa

A theory about the background to Leonardo's masterpiece joins the long list of trivia concerning the painting.

Another day, another claim about the Mona Lisa. The Italian art historian Carla Glori has argued that the mysterious landscape in Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece refers to the Italian village of Bobbio. Here are five other interesting titbits about the painting.

Take five… the sitter

There are many theories as to who posed for the picture, although it is widely believed to have been Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo - a theory supported by the wordplay in the portrait's alternative title, La Gioconda - "the happy one" in Italian.

Take four... the forehead

Look closely, and you will notice that Lisa has no eyebrows. Some put this down to 16th-century fashion, but after 3,000 hours of studying the painting using megapixel scans, a Parisian engineer claimed he could see the vestige of a painted eyebrow and blamed time and over-zealous restorers for their absence.

Take three… the delay

Leonardo is believed to have begun work on the painting around 1503. However, it was still unfinished in 1506 and, with various delays, may have been finally completed only in 1516 when he entered the service of King Francis I of France. It was never delivered to his client and Leonardo was not paid for it.

Take two… the theft

The Mona Lisa was stolen from its Paris home in the Louvre in 1911 and recovered two years later. Although labelled by many "the greatest art theft of the 20th century", the offence earned the thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, only a short jail term as he claimed it had been a "patriotic" crime for Italy.

Take one… the violence

The Mona Lisa has been protected by bullet-proof glass as a result of attempts to damage it using acid and stones, so it survived its most recent attack: a Russian woman threw a ceramic mug at it in 2009.