Perhaps the most famous painting of all time is the 16th century masterpiece known as the Mona Lisa. Created by the near mythical Leonardo da Vinci, legend has it that if you stare into her eyes as you walk, her eyes follow you.
The masterpiece currently resides in the Louvre in Paris. Apparently, the name of the woman depicted in the painting was the wife of a rich Florentine named Lisa Gherardini and the “Mona” simply means madam or lady. It took da Vinci four years to finally complete it in 1507. He sold it to the then King of France and the story goes that the painting was taken down after da Vinci died.
The Dulwich Gallery contains a second Mona Lisa and it has been greatly speculated that this is a copy painted by the great master himself. Controversy continues to rage but the copy controversy has been largely discredited over time. Napoleon Bonaparte soon took possession of the master work after he seized power and had it displayed in his bedroom.
Controversy and conspiracy theory continue to surround the painting. Some say there are secret messages painted into the picture and others believe da Vinci merely painted himself as he would have envisioned himself a woman. The masterpiece was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 but was recovered in 1913 when the thief went to sell it to an art dealer in Florence.
Source: Art History Guide