Mona Lisa (La Gionconda)

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La Gioconda a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci
(1503–06, perhaps continuing until c. 1517)
Mona Lisa
When you finally see La Gionconda in the Salle des Etats, nudge through the crowd with their cellphone raised, you might ask “What is the Big Deal”

Da Vinci’s started the painting when he was 51, it took him four years to complete and he may have carried it with him to Paris. He died in France when he was 67. (he may have worked on Lisa for over 10 years)

Francois I displayed the Mona Lisa at Fountainbleu
Louis XIV removed it to the grand Palace of Versailles
Napoleon hung the Mona Lisa in his bedroom
11 Years after the Galaries of the Louvre opened, the Mona Lisa was displayed in the Grand Gallery

In 1911 the Mona Lisa is stolen, and missing for two years
Measuring 1’9″ x 2’6″, it was smuggled out of the Louvre under a blanket, after the weekend by a Italian Handyman
Before the theft, the Mona Lisa was not known outside the Art World

Nat King Cole records, Mona Lisa

In 1959 the Mona Lisa was damaged in Tokyo when some one threw acid at the painting. Later that year some one threw a rock which dislodged a chip of paint

In 1962, First Lady Jackie Kennedy helped to bring the Mona Lisa to the National Gallery (DC) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC)

Bulletproof glass has shielded the painting in subsequent attacks which included red paint and a teacup

Currently, Mona Lisa occupies a wall in the Salle des Etats across the room from the largest painting at La Louvre, Wedding at Cana (Paolo Veronese)

Although the Mona Lisa may be the major attraction of Le Louvre, the surge in attendance may be attributable to the Grand Louvre project, a major remodel which made everything more accessible to tourists. The parking lot in the Louvre courtyard, was excavated for a subterranean courtyard, underneath a Pyramid which now serves as the main entrance. Attendance doubled, and then tripled.

The style and pose of this painting has been the inspiration for many artists:

Jean Metzinger, Le goûter (Tea Time) The Mona Lisa of Cubism (1911)

The Girl with the Pearl Earring (Vermeer)
The Dutch Mona Lisa

It’s Time to Take Down the Mona Lisa

We agree that sometimes it seems like this small painting is a disappointment, and overrated.
That the rush of museum-goers is a prime example of tourism. And that maybe they should remove the Mona Lisa to it’s own venue so as to not totally disrupt the traffic at the Louvre.

But we love the Mona Lisa at the Lourve. We always get there early and run up to see Lisa first thing
(like everyone else)

Maybe the Mona Lisa is famous-because-it-is-famous, like some of today’s celebrities

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