Ahhh the Mona Lisa, quite possibly one of the world’s most over rated tourist attractions. Over 6 million people visit the painting each year, and it is often described as, "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world". While it is probably one of the most important pieces of art in the world, it is swarmed with rows and rows of tourists all holding their phones up to try to get a picture (we are just as guilty as they are) of it, and unfortunately, for security reasons, a barrier keeps everyone about 10 feet from the painting at all times. Not to mention, she is situated behind bulletproof glass. While we can appreciate the beauty of the painting, and it was an experience viewing it in person, the story behind the Mona Lisa is far more interesting than the painting itself and exploring the rest of the Louvre, while taking a quick stop in Lisa gallery, is probably more worth your while.

Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci anywhere from 1500 - to around 1516 (different sources dispute the time).Over the course of its 500 years in existence, until very recently, it was in constant speculation as to who the young woman in the painting was, why she was smiling, why her hands are folded the way they are, along with a dozen other little details within Leonardo's work. Finally, in the year 2005, an expert at the University Library of Heidelberg, proved with relative certainty that the sitter in the painting was Lisa del Giocondo. At the young age of 15, Lisa married a man named Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo who was a silk Merchant from Florence. It is pretty widely accepted that Francesco commissioned the portrait of Lisa to commemorate the couple’s second child, as well as the purchase of a new home for the family.

A lot of time with fame, comes unwanted attention. The Mona Lisa has been vandalized numerous times (which explains its current security measures) as well as stolen once. People have tried to spray paint it, throw rocks at it, and even throw acid on it in the 50's. in the early 1900's a Louvre employee named Vincenzo Peruggia entered the gallery during normal business hours, hid in a broom closet and walked out with the painting under his jacket after the museum closed. Vincenzo was a patriot and felt that since the painting was done by an Italian, Leonardo, that it belonged in Italy. Peruggia had the painting for 2 years before he was pinched trying to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi gallery in Florence. He was hailed as a national hero and only served 6 months in jail!