I was reading about Mona Lisa on Wikipedia the other day and came across a photo of the back of the painting. For some reason this interested me more than the front ...probably because we’ve all seen Mona a thousand times and she’s become ubiquitous. There are a couple of scribbles on the back and the letter “H”, but I couldn’t resist making an ATC to jazz it up (vicariously).
Apparently Mona was painted in oil on a 21 x 30” panel made of poplar wood. At some point she was removed from her frame and this caused warping. A crack also developed near the top of the panel. Mona has been fixed a few times—most recently in 1970—and she’s now kept in a bulletproof glass case with a bed of silica gel to maintain the humidity at 55 per cent.
The weird thing is that I saw the Mona Lisa in the flesh (so to speak) back in 1992, and I don’t remember the glass case at all. But I do recall a guy complaining to his girlfriend: “You mean you brought me all the way to France to see this?”
I have to admit the main reason I went to the Louvre myself was to see the Winged Victory, which has always fascinated me. But one of these days, I’d like to go back and take a closer look at Mona plus all the other fabulous art I seem to have forgotten about.