Mona Lisa goes to America

In 1963, primarily thanks to the then first Lady Jackie Kennedy’s hard work to get the painting to the US, the French government allowed Leonardo da Vinci’s  (born in Vinci Italy 1452 died in France 1519) masterpiece Mona Lisa or ‘La Gioconda’ (Italian, in French – La Jocondeas the painting is also called, to be lent to the United States to be on display in Washington D.C. and New York City. Mona Lisa was displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and after that in New York city at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting made it’s way to the U.S. via ship in a climate controlled container and with heavy security. The ship carrying the painting was escorted into New York City by the US Coast Guard serving as added protection from potential thieves. The painting was in 1962 valued at $100,000,000.00 (100 million dollars) for the insurance needed for the trip.

The woman in the portrait is believed to be that of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, who was a silk merchant from Florence Italy. Her name was  Lisa del Giocondo and the portrait was commissioned by her husband in celebration of the birth of their second son. La Gioconda (feminine of the last name Giocondo) means something along the lines of happy or jovial and the title is thought to be a play on words. It is believed to have been painted mainly between 1503 and 1506. The painting was never placed in the Giocondo home as was the purpose when it was commissioned. Leonardo is thought to have brought the unfinished painting with him to France, where he as an artist and painter was invited in 1516 by King Francois I. Leonardo likely finished the painting while in France and the painting remained there after Leonardo’s death. Leonardo left Mona Lisa to his assistant and it was purchased from him by King Francois I for 4,000 gold coins.  Francois I placed it in his palace at Fontainebleau where it remained for about 100 years. Louis XIV brought it to Versailles when it was made into the Royal residence in 1682. After the French revolution 1789-1799) it hung in Napoleon’s bedroom at the Tuileries for 4 years and then made it’s way to the Louvre in 1804 where it still has a permanent home to the joy of millions of visitors each year.

Mona Lisa or La Gioconda at the Louvre in 2013.
Mona Lisa or La Gioconda at the Louvre in 2013.

As with all the facts regarding the painting, when it was painted and who the subject really was, nothing is certain or definitively proven and much is conjecture after studies done on the matter, so keep this in mind when reading this.

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