On This Day, Nov. 3, 1507 – DiVinci Commissioned to Paint the Mona Lisa


1507 – Leonardo DaVinci was commissioned to paint the Mona Lisa.

There has been much speculation and debate regarding the identity of the portrait’s sitter. Scholars and historians have posited numerous interpretations, including that she is Lisa del Giocondo (née Gherardini), the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo, hence the alternative title to the work, La Gioconda.

That identity was first suggested in 1550 by artist biographer Giorgio Vasari. Another theory was that the model may have been Leonardo’s mother, Caterina. That interpretation was put forth by, among others, Sigmund Freud, who seemed to think that the Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile emerged from a — perhaps unconscious — memory of Caterina’s smile.

A third suggestion was that the painting was, in fact, Leonardo’s self-portrait, given the resemblance between the sitter’s and the artist’s facial features. Some scholars suggested that disguising himself as a woman was the artist’s riddle. The sitter’s identity has not been conclusively proven. In an attempt to settle the debate, art and forensic experts in August 2013 opened the tomb of the Giocondo family in Florence in order to find Lisa del Giocondo’s remains, test her DNA, and recreate an image of her face.

Whatever the sitter’s identity, the influence of the Mona Lisa on the Renaissance and later times has been enormous. The Mona Lisa revolutionized contemporary portrait painting.

1631 – The Reverend John Eliot arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was the first Protestant minister to dedicate himself to the conversion of Native Americans to Christianity.

1793 – Stephen F. Austin was born. He was the principal founder of Texas.

1796John Adams was elected the 2nd U.S. President.

1839 – The first Opium War between China and Britain erupted.

1900 – The first automobile show in the United States opened at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

1911 – Chevrolet Motor Car Company was founded by Louis Chevrolet and William C. Durant.

1934 – The first race track in California opened under a new pari-mutuel betting law.

1941 – U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Grew warned that the Japanese may be planning a sudden attack on the U.S.

1952 – Frozen bread was offered for sale for the first time in a supermarket in Chester, NY.

1953 – The Rules Committee of organized baseball restored the sacrifice fly. The rule had not been used since 1939.

1957Sputnik II was launched by the Soviet Union. It was the second manmade satellite to be put into orbit and was the first to put an animal into space, a dog named Laika.

1975 – “Good Morning America” premiered on ABC-TV.

1979 – Five members of the Communist Workers’ Party are shot to death in broad daylight at an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in Greensboro, NC. Eight others were wounded.

1986 – The Ash-Shiraa, pro-Syrian Lebanese magazine, first broke the story of U.S. arms sales to Iran to secure the release of seven American hostages. The story turned into the Iran-Contra affair.

1987 – China told the U.S. that it would halt the sale of arms to Iran.

1991 – Israeli and Palestinian representatives held their first face-to-face talks in Madrid, Spain.

1992 – Carol Moseley-Braun became the first African-American woman U.S. senator.

1994 – Susan Smith of Union, SC, was arrested for drowning her two sons. Nine days earlier Smith had claimed that the children had been abducted by a black carjacker.

1995 President William Clinton dedicated a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery to the 270 victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.


1998 – Bob Kane, the creator of Batman, died at the age of 83.

1998Minnesota elected Jesse “The Body” Ventura, a former pro wrestler, as its governor.


Source: Britanica.com, On-This-Day.com