Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa 1503-1506 and later (1510?)

Oil on poplar, 77 x 53 cm Paris, Musee du Louvre


This panel consists of a thin sheet of poplar, and reveals fully intact borders around its periphery. Mona Lisa wasn't trimmed by several centimetres on its right and left-hand sides. In the mid-18th century to early 19th century, two butterfly-shaped walnut braces were inserted into the back of the panel to a depth of about 1/3 the thickness of the panel, the painting is in an excellent state of repair.
A number of pentimenti can be seen on the fingers, where there may also have been some retouching.

The first and most extensive recorded cleaning, revarnishing, and touch-up of the Mona Lisa was an 1809 wash and revarnishing undertaken by Jean-Marie Hooghstoel, who was responsible for restoration of paintings for the galleries of the Musée Napoléon.
The work involved cleaning with spirits, touch-up of colour, and revarnishing the painting.

In 1906, Louvre restorer Eugène Denizard performed watercolour retouches on areas of the paint layer disturbed by the crack in the panel. Denizard also retouched the edges of the picture with varnish, to mask areas that had been covered initially by an older frame.

In 1913, when the painting was recovered after its theft, Denizard was again called upon to work on the Mona Lisa. Denizard was directed to clean the picture without solvent, and to lightly touch up several scratches to the painting with watercolour.

In 1952, the varnish layer over the background in the painting was evened out.

After the second 1956 attack, restorer Jean-Gabriel Goulinat was directed to touch up the damage to Mona Lisa's left elbow with watercolour

In 1977, a new insect infestation was discovered in the back of the panel as a result of crosspieces installed to keep the painting from warping. This was treated on the spot with carbon tetrachloride, and later with an ethylene oxide treatment.

In 1985, the spot was again treated with carbon tetrachloride as a preventive measure

The first mention of this picture is that Antonio Beatis, he saw the painting on 10 October 1517 in Leonardo's workshop in Cloux.
The painting is named, along with a number of other paintings by Leonardo, in the 1525 inventory of Salai's estate.
The painting listed as forming part of Salai's estate is mentioned again in a Milanese notarial document of 1531, where it is valued at a considerably lower sum.
In 1518, Salai sold some pictures to a representative of the French king, the enormous purchase price of the equivalent of 6250 lire imperial.

It is consequently possible that the Mona Lisa may have been acquired for Francois I as early as 1518, and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797.