Let's play a game. Think of a famous painting. Guess what? You just thought of me. Today, I'm the world's most renowned work of art, but it wasn't always this way. My story is full of surprises, and it all began in a studio in Florence.
The Mona Lisa's Accidental Fame
Well, here's the master himself, Leonardo da Vinci. He worked on me on and off for a few years towards the end of his career.
You're a minor work, my dear. Some interesting shading, nothing more.
We'll just see about that.
Over the next 300 years, I hung quietly in French palaces and royal bathrooms. The things I've seen...
I want you!
Until finally I was noticed by a man who had already made quite a name for himself. When Napoleon chose me to hang on his bedroom wall, people took notice.
I look forward to sleeping with you, my cherie.
After he had his whole exile-from-France thing, they tossed me on a wall at the Louvre. But at this point, I was still just another Renaissance portrait. Until one night...
...I was stolen!
It was pandemonium. Paris was in an uproar. The police hauled people in left and right. The hysteria hit a fever pitch when the police suspected and interrogated one of the most famous artists in the world—Pablo Picasso. But Picasso was innocent. The thief turned out to be an Italian carpenter. He was caught in Florence, and I returned to the Louvre.
From that day forward, I became the darling of the art world. Everyone wanted to see Napoleon's da Vinci painting Picasso was suspected of stealing. Soon, tourists crowded in, and most people forgot why I was famous in the first place. That might raise some eyebrows, but not mine since I don't have any.
Oh! You didn't notice I don't have any eyebrows? I told you—I'm full of surprises.