By Lucy Riley
Lisa Del Giocondo, known in the art world as “Mona Lisa,” was the face or rather the smile behind the adorned painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. The woman’s identity was speculated from its origins and not fully revealed until the early 2000s at Heidelberg University. Originally named Lisa de’ Gherardini, she grew up as part of a noble family in Florence, Italy. Her community described her as a fixture of beauty and elegance. After her marriage to a wealthy Florentine merchant, Del Giocondo met the famous artist and became a figure in his art. While her personal stylistic take on the Renaissance remains somewhat of a mystery, her beauty and De Vinci’s talent introduced a new standard for the era.
The painting’s dark simplicity, in colors and textures, contrasted the vibrancy of the Renaissance period, much like the long-held debate between minimalism and maximalism. The painting depicts Del Giocondo in a natural element with earth-toned clothing and a soft-faced smile that holds the message of this masterpiece. The slight, mysterious curve in her lips has ranged in interpretation, whether that be enigmatic and sensual or saddening and reflective. Her understated clothing choices proved not to date the painting, making her smile a timeless fixation for decades. “As far as possible avoid the costumes of your own day… Costumes of our period should not be depicted unless it is on tombstones, so that we may be spared being laughed at by our successors, ” De Vinci said.
The redefinition of modern art, in turn, has continued to have a long hold on music, art, and fashion. Del Giocondo’s influence took on the music industry through various genres, from Nat King Cole’s song, “Mona Lisa” to her appearance in Beyonce and Jay-Z’s collaborative music video in 2018.
However, the painting’s largest mainstream influence outside its current French residence at the Louvre seems to be in the fashion world. Her influence on modern art of the 1500s has translated into a love affair with runway and fashion photography. More recently appeared in shows like the Dior Fall-Winter 2019 collection, featuring an intricate “Mona Lisa” inspired knitwear piece. She is even showing up in collaborations like the bag collection between Louis Vuitton and Jeff Koons, seen on the arm of Kendal Jenner and others.
Del Giocondo appears to have influenced those influencing us. So, does the argument hold that Lisa Del Giocondo was the original inspiration for the many variations of the “That Girl” movement more recently introduced through social media?