Leonardo da Vinci carried the Mona Lisa with him for years. Took it to Milan, Rome and France. Impressing other painters with his mastery of style and techniques never seen before.
Sfumato [sfoo MAH toh] is an effect used by da Vinci to create the Mona Lisa. The word "sfumato" is derived from the Italian word "sfumare", which means "to evaporate". In the Mona Lisa, da Vinci used this technique by shading tones into each other to create soft blurred outlines. Tones blend (or evaporate) into one another to eliminate sharp lines and create an atmospheric effect. (This soft blending of colors is very much a technique mastered by Thomas Kinkade)
In the 1530's the painting was acquired by Francis I, King of France for approximately $105,000. Viewing was reserved for the upper class at the Fontainebleau, a 16th century chateau.
When the Louvre opened to the public, the Mona Lisa became accessible to the masses. Many painted copies and reproductions emerged. Writers and poets wrote about her, and idealized her. By the mid-1800's she was a legend.
In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the museum. Newspapers wrote about it, printed her picture, offered rewards. She became the subject of plays, cartoons and tribute making her a household name. Luckily, the painting was recovered 27 months after it was stolen.