The world’s most popular painting is arguably the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. It hangs on the wall of the Musée du Louvre. Just about every art fan, including those to have taken the Louvre guided tour, will know that the smile of La Gioconda is mysterious. However, there is much more to the mystery of the painting.
How the Mona Lisa Got to the Louvre Museum
Leonardo da Vinci had worked on this masterpiece painting just about until his demise. He took the painting to France in 1516 when King Francis I invited him to work at Château du Clos Lucé. As per some credentialed pundits, a year before Leonardo da Vinci’s passed away, the king acquired the painting from Salaì, the painter’s pupil who inherited several artworks from him. According to records, it rejoined the French royal collection back in 1518.
After that, it was displayed for many years at Château de Fontainebleau in France, until King Louis XIV moved it to Palace of Versailles. Once the structure was rebuilt, the king moved his palatial home. When the prolonged French Revolution ended in 1799, the painting was taken into the Musée du Louvre. However, there were many instances when it was moved from there.
For instance, when Napoléon Bonaparte came to power, the painting was hung on the wall of his bedroom. It was also taken from the Louvre Museum to a secret place in France during the Franco-German War, the First World War, and the World War II. It was brought back to the museum in the 1900’s mid and the rest is history. Although it survived the wars, something happened in between the period.
The Theft of the Mona Lisa
An Italian native named Vincenzo Peruggia stole the painting from the museum in 1911 when he was employed there, under the assumption that Napoléon took it from Italy during his Italian campaigns. Peruggia kept it hidden in Paris for a couple of years, while the police suspected other people for the robbery. He brought it to Italy years later, but was eventually caught when he tried to sell it with the help of an art collector.
The Loan out that Never Happened
The painting is so dear to the national museum of Paris that when the Ministry of Culture proposed it should loan it out for the “Grand Tour” project across France, the proposal was declined. That was because the Louvre Museum wanted to keep the painting to themselves to attract more and more visitors.