La Gioconda or Mona Lisa or La Jaconda was, according to Da Vinci's biographer Walter Isaacson, the culmination of his life's curiosities, scientific, artistic and intellectual pursuits. It was commissioned by a silk merchant Francesco Del Giocondo who wanted his new wife Lisa Gheradini to be painted. He was from the upward moving merchant class and she was from an older noble family. Da Vinci didn't like painting the portraits of society people so the author of my Audible book speculates that since the Del Diocondos used Da Vinci's father as a notary and were friends, it's likely his father had put pressure on him. But Da Vinci never gave them the portrait. He carted it around with him from city to city and eventually it was still in his studio in France at Chateau De Cloux where he died whilst serving his last patron King Francis I. But put that aside - it's fascinating if you think about it. He cut open cadavers to analyse skeletons, muscle and skin. To understand the human eye and how it processes light he cut open eyes and opened up brains. He studied humans and their mannerisms, their psychology. He studied geometry, perspective, the human body and its mechanics, myths and philosophy. He studied fabrics and was obsessed with knots and painted them all to the finest detail. He was a philosopher. He dreamed up new machines. And he used his imagination and his craft and the natural world around him to blur the boundaries between what was real and what was imagined. And all of that lead to and was put into his final masterpiece of work. Until tonight I had never really understood what all the fuss was about.