Lisa del Giocondo
1479 – 1542 A.D.
Lisa Del Giocondo, a beautiful woman of Florence, whose portrait, the “Mona Lisa” of Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the famous pictures of the world. Her maiden name, de’ Gherardini was that of an ancient, noble family of Forentines, though she was born in Naples, where she lived as a girl. In 1495 she married a wealthy Florentine merchant, Ser Francesko del Giocondo, and during the rest of her life, as far as is known, she lived in Florence. She seems to have been a happy wife and mother, but of her later years there is no record.
It was probably the first year of her marriage that she met the great artist, and a friendship began which grew into a platonic affection, and about which many writers have woven the charm of romance. Physically, morally and intellectually, Mona Lisa appealed to Leonardo as no other woman had ever done; her painted her again and again, and how mightily she influenced his work is manifest, for all his chiefest pictures reproduce something of her personality. The Mona Lisa smile greets the one everywhere in Northern Italy where the works of Leonardo and his pupils are to be seen; she set a fashion in vitality and subtlety of expression absolutely unrivalled.
In 1516 Leonardo da Vinci went to France, to the court of Francis I, who cordially welcomed him, and loaded him with honours. The artist brought with him the portrait, “Mona Lisa,” for which the king paid him £4,000, an immense sum in those days. Three years later Leonardo died, while his famous “Mona Lisa” remained in Fontainebleau for more than a century until Louis XIV took her to Versailles. After the Revolution the painting with “the irresistible, enigmatic smile” found its final resting place on the walls of the Lourve.
In 1910, the artistic world was shocked by the news that the “Mona Lisa” had been stolen, but after a disappearance of several months, it was mysteriously returned, and it now hangs as of old, one of the chief ornaments of the Lourve, and one of the most precious pictures in France.
The “Romance of Leonardo da Vinci” by Dimitri Merejkowski presents a vivid portrait of Mona Lisa.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.