SSAT Upper Level Reading Comprehension Practice Test 24

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Most art enthusiasts agree that Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous painting in the world. It is the portrait of a woman, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine business man. The name roughly translates from Italian to mean "Madam Lisa" and is a respectful term. Anyone who has ever viewed the painting, seasoned art critic or inexperienced museum visitor, remembers well its greatest feature—Mona Lisa's smile. It is this smile that has captured the imagination of the millions of visitors who have seen the painting over the years.

There is something powerful and alluring contained in Mona Lisa's smile that intrigues all who see it. The reason for her smile has long been the subject of discussion in the art world. But perhaps it is the fact that no one knows why she smiles that makes Mona Lisa the most famous of all paintings. There is something so appealing and recognizably human about an unexplained smile to which everyone can relate. Furthermore, if we ever tire of analyzing why Mona Lisa smiles, we can consider how da Vinci managed to capture the smile. What could he have been thinking while painting? A genuine smile is hard to capture even in a photograph with a modern camera, yet Leonardo da Vinci managed to capture this subtle expression in a painting. It is amazing that da Vinci was able to create for eternity a frozen picture of a smile that in reality lasts less than an instant.

The painting now hangs in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France. Several different owners have possessed it at various times throughout history, including Louis XIV and Napoleon. It was even temporarily in the possession of a former museum employee who stole it in 1911. He was caught in 1913. It is likely that all who held the painting at one time or another wondered about the Mona Lisa smile, just as today's museum visitors do. Now the painting officially belongs to the French government. In some ways, though, it is really a painting (and a mystery) that belongs to the world.

1. Which of the following best expresses the author's attitude toward the painting?

  • A. It should be well protected so that it is not stolen again.
  • B. It is difficult to preserve such old masterpieces.
  • C. Its greatest appeal is the mystery surrounding it.
  • D. There will never be a painter as great as Leonardo da Vinci again.
  • E. Everyone should have a chance to own great art.

2. Which of the following is a fact from the passage?

  • A. A good smile lasts only a few seconds.
  • B. There is tremendous mystery surrounding which painter created Mona Lisa.
  • C. Napoleon donated Mona Lisa to the Musée du Louvre.
  • D. There has been some focus on Mona Lisa's smile in artistic communities.
  • E. All art historians agree that Mona Lisa is the greatest work of art in the world.

3. The author implies which of the following?

  • A. A painting can be owned, but the powerful effect of a work of art is available to everyone who sees it.
  • B. Leonardo da Vinci was hiding a secret that he wished to reveal through his painting.
  • C. Mona Lisa has caused much turmoil in the art world due to its peculiar details.
  • D. The Musée du Louvre does not have proper equipment in place for capturing modern criminals.
  • E. The only detail viewers of Mona Lisa can later recall is her smile.

4. The author's tone can best be described as

  • A. appreciative
  • B. investigative
  • C. artistic
  • D. confused
  • E. indifferent