In 2018, I went on a short four-day trip to Paris with my family. Because of our short time frame, we decided to hit up the usual tourist spots in an effort to fit in as many of the sights as possible. Naturally, that led us to spend a day in the Louvre. We'd visited the museum early enough that there were few lines around the more popular paintings, including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. I got to take it in without much fuss and then I turned to look at the rest of the paintings.
I walked across to a giant wall-sized painting called The Wedding at Cana and took the time to appreciate that one. Barely two minutes must have passed between my viewing of the Mona Lisa and Wedding at Cana, but when I turned around, the Mona Lisa was completely swarmed by onlookers and photographers.
For years, I was curious about the contrasting audiences between these two paintings and their absurd size. As it turns out, though, there's a reason why the Mona Lisa is so famous compared to other paintings, as one TikToker explains.
This TikToker explains why the Mona Lisa is so famous compared to other paintings.
Tara Nicole on TikTok (@tarah_nt) took some time to address the true significance behind the Mona Lisa and why it remains so revered to this day, especially when compared to larger paintings.
In her impromptu crash course on art theory, she directly addresses other folks' concerns (including my own) on why there's such an enormous amount of clout behind the Mona Lisa despite its size.
Apparently, she often caught wind of the comparison between the Mona Lisa and the Wedding at Cana across from it and how some folks feel as if the larger painting deserves more attention than the Mona Lisa.
"The big painting's awesome, it has an incredible story, it's really well done, it's really a truly great work of art," Tarah posits in her TikTok.
However, she immediately goes off into why the Mona Lisa is so important in the world of art.
Tarah explains that the Mona Lisa is essentially the culmination of da Vinci's advanced understanding of art, anatomy, light theory, and human perspective and that his completion of it revolutionized artistry as we know it.
She goes on to say that da Vinci implemented techniques in the Mona Lisa that hadn't even been invented until da Vinci himself put them into practice.
"His understanding of light theory and how our eyes bend light preceded the invention of the bifocal by Benjamin Franklin by hundreds of years," she explains.
You might have heard things about the Mona Lisa that suggest that the painting's expression changes depending on how you look at it. This was entirely purposeful, as da Vinci utilized lighting and perspective in such a way that it's able to play with a viewer's perspective.
"The technique he used to paint? It didn't even exist yet. He invented it and perfected it in the Mona Lisa," Tarah states.
I know that I've certainly gained a deeper understanding of why the Mona Lisa still remains one of the most important paintings in art history. But even if the layperson doesn't understand art theory of this nature, there's still very little reason for folks to be tearing down the Mona Lisa like that.