B2 High-Intermediate US 7166 Folder Collection
After playing the video, you can click or select the word to look it up in the dictionary.
Report Subtitle Errors
If you want praise of Leonardo daVinci's Mona Lisa as art, you can find it.
But what if you think it's just….
What's the cynic's explanation for the Mona Lisa?
Why is the Mona Lisa so, so famous?
Is it really that much better than da Vinci's Lady with Ermine?
That seems better.
There's one more ermine.
But it's Mona who is so famous that the director of the Louvre, where Mona Lisa lives,
said 80% of their visitors are only there to see that one painting.
If you don't think Mona Lisa is famous just because she's somehow 10 times better than every other painting,
her story reveals something more interesting,
something about how art breaks into wider culture.
And it might never have happened if the Mona Lisa hadn't disappeared.
Before Mona Lisa became a mass culture star, before she vanished, one critic made her a
work of art worth taking.
And he was so over-the-top insanely in love with the painting that he single-handedly
made it a masterpiece.
Walter Pater's 1873 book, The Renaissance, was key.
It came out more than 350 years after Leonardo painted it, but it defined the painting for
That was key in an age when it was hard to actually see the art.
So the words did the work.
Here is the epic semi-colon-stuffed paragraph at the center of his ode to Mona Lisa.
"The animalism of Greece" "She is older than the rocks among which
she sits."
"Like the vampire, she has been dead many times."
This was the purplest prose of all time.
But people loved the stuff.
Oscar Wilde thought the essay's writing was great.
He praised "the musical of the mystical prose."
And every general interest profile of the Louvre, from academic guidebooks to discussions
clubs in Paducah, used Pater's words to talk about Mona.
Other critics jumped on — Mona was a popular, secular painting that they could analyze.
Unlike da Vinci's Last Supper, they could supply all the meaning.
But even at her peak, Mona Lisa was just art world famous, not the most famous painting
of all time.
In 1907, a vandal at the Louvre targeted a picture by Ingres not da Vinci.
And in 1910, amidst rumors of theft, papers called Mona just the second most famous painting
in the Louvre, after Raphael's Sistina Madonna.
It took a real theft to take Mona from art syllabus highlight to mass culture icon.
These are Vincenzo Peruggia's fingerprints.
This is Vincenzo Peruggia's mugshot.
He has one because on August 21, 1911, the former Louvre worker lifted the Mona Lisa
off the wall and...took it home.
It took the Louvre a day to even notice, but the media didn’t have as subdued of a reaction.
The painting went missing for two years, and every time, the press — often quoting Pater
— called it the greatest portrait there ever was.
They speculated that Mona's smile had driven the thief mad, they wrote art thief fan fiction,
and they constantly daydreamed about Mona Lisa's whereabouts.
Thousands went to the Louvre just to see empty hooks hanging on the wall.
The robbery and manhunt were like a two year ad campaign for the painting.
And because you couldn't just Google "Mona Lisa before it was stolen," it was hard
for people to see the actual painting and say, "What's the big deal?"
When Peruggia was caught, he said his goal was to bring Mona back to her native Italy.
By then, she was the most famous painting in the world due, in part, to her absence.
Just as critics could smear prose on her blank face, the press could hang a reputation on
those empty hooks in the wall.
When Mona Lisa was stolen, she left a masterpiece.
After her recovery and a two week tour in Florence, she returned to the Louvre bigger
than just art.
She was a story and a legend and prominently shown in every paper that
reported her recovery.
It was the big reveal after 2 years of suspense, now with a story that merited Walter Pater's
From that point on, she attracted Presidential speeches and parodies.
"Also come to pay homage to this great creation of the civilization which we share."
The momentum never stopped.
In the end, the cynic's interpretation and the gob-smacked critic's interpretation
have something in common.
Mona Lisa isn't a portrait, but a blank face.
A place for critics to paint meaning, and people to find mystery.
That’s why she was so famous — not because of how she's painted, but what we see in
If that's not art, then what is?
I found one 1909 description of the Mona Lisa that seemed particularly prescient.
The writer said: "Even those whose first expressions [sic] is 'huh' and proclaimed
frankly that they cannot see her beauty or her interest find themselves disputing hotly
over both."
That's probably still the case today.
    You must  Log in  to get the function.
Tip: Click on the article or the word in the subtitle to get translation quickly!


How the Mona Lisa became so overrated

7166 Folder Collection
韓澐 published on October 25, 2017    JT translated    Evangeline reviewed
More Recommended Videos
  1. 1. Search word

    Select word on the caption to look it up in the dictionary!

  2. 2. Repeat single sentence

    Repeat the same sentence to enhance listening ability

  3. 3. Shortcut


  4. 4. Close caption

    Close the English caption

  5. 5. Embed

    Embed the video to your blog

  6. 6. Unfold

    Hide right panel

  1. Listening Quiz

    Listening Quiz!

  1. Click to open your notebook

  1. UrbanDictionary 俚語字典整合查詢。一般字典查詢不到你滿意的解譯,不妨使用「俚語字典」,或許會讓你有滿意的答案喔