Who is Mona Lisa?


Quick Answer

Most art historians agree that the woman portrayed in the "Mona Lisa" is Lisa Gherardini. She was the wife of notable Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo, from whose name derives one of the painting's alternative titles, "La Gioconda."

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Full Answer

The title "La Gioconda" is both a direct reference to Francesco del Giocondo's name and a pun on the Italian word meaning "happy" or "jovial," because the woman in the painting seems mysteriously happy. The title "Mona Lisa" comes from "mona," a polite form of address similar to "my lady." There are other theories of the woman's identity. Sigmund Freud posited that she is Leonardo's mother, Caterina, while others believe that the painting is a feminized portrait of Leonardo himself.

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