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Why is the Mona Lisa so famous? - Noah Charney

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More than 500 years after its creation, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is arguably the world’s most famous painting. Many scholars consider it an outstanding work of Renaissance art— but history is full of great paintings. So, how did this particular portrait skyrocket to unprecedented fame? Noah Charney explores the factors that helped create a worldwide sensation.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Noah Charney
  • Director Avi Ofer
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Producer Cella Wright
  • Script Editor Iseult Gillespie
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
When Noah Charney wrote a book about the fate of the world's most frequently stolen artwork, The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck, he told the story of the Monuments Men and the race to save Europe's art treasures that had been looted by the Nazis. This included The Ghent Altarpiece, but did it also include the Mona Lisa? Charney found much confusion as to this point, so he decided to dig deeper. The result were these two articles, which have some overlap, but both of which examine whether the Nazis stole the Mona Lisa...or just thought they did:

Did the Nazis also steal the Mona Lisa? – CNN
Did the Nazis steal the Mona Lisa? – The Guardian

You might be wondering how artworks are authenticated. The process is labyrinthine and is best illustrated in one, in-depth case study. This long-form article tells of how another suspected Leonardo work, a drawing, was discovered and authenticated:

Is it really a Leonardo? – Aeon

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Noah Charney
  • Director Avi Ofer
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Producer Cella Wright
  • Script Editor Iseult Gillespie
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • See more creators

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