“Mona Lisa” “The Last Supper” “The Creation of Adam”
Do these three painting titles ring a bell? Most likely they do, but even if you don’t know the names you’re sure to have seen pictures and replications of them many times. They are like the Coca-Cola and Nike Swoosh of the art world, instantly recognizable by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people.
1. Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci pronounced Vin-Chee) in the first decade of the 1500’s. Far and away the most famous painting of all time, the Mona Lisa is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The Mona Lisa is the main attraction at the museum and over six million people visit every year.
Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by a wealthy silk merchant from Florence, Italy to paint a picture of the merchant’s wife, Lisa Gherardini. The painting is a little under three feet tall and two feet wide. As far as historians can make out, da Vinci must have taken the painting with him to France around 1515 and died a few years later. The king of France purchased the painting and it has remained the property of France ever since.
2. The Last Supper
Also painted by Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper is actually a painting covering an entire wall at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. The painting depicts the moment Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray him. The story is found in the book of John in the Bible.
The painting measures about 15 feet tall and 29 feet wide. Very little remains of the original painting after years of neglect, poor restoration, and intentional vandalism. Fortunately, two of da Vinci’s students painted incredibly detailed replica’s shortly after his death. These other paintings are nearly the same size as the original and have provided the detail for restorations of the original.
3. The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam is the most famous painting of the nine depictions of stories from the book of Genesis painted by Michelangelo around 1520. The paintings all adorn the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in Vatican City, Rome. The painting is a Fresco, a technique used to paint murals on lime plaster while the plaster is still wet.
In the painting, God is represented as an old man in a white cloak and is seen stretching out to touch the finger of a completely nude Adam. Speculations have been made that the more feminine figure under God’s left arm may be Eve, The Virgin Mary, a female angel and more. These are all guesswork and unless some manuscript is found, the world will likely never know.