List O’ Ten Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre

After exchanging hands many times, the Mona Lisa is back in France’s most famous museum, the Louvre. More than six million visitors a years pass through the hall where she hangs. Despite being stolen and hidden in a chest for two years, doused on the bottom half with corrosive acid and hit with a stone , the Mona Lisa has survived. From loving hands to greedy hands and hands that wanted to hold her hostage, this list recounts the places where she has lived in her lifetime.

10. Leonardo’s Possession

List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list

Leonardo Da Vinci began work on the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in Italy. At the time of the painting, Leonardo had become disenchanted with painting and all but stopped. He had many offers from the rich and influential, all of which he had turned down. He had not picked up a paintbrush for many years and instead totally immersed in his inventions. It is a mystery why he chose to do this particular portrait but speculation point to his father, Ser Piero da Vinci, who took the role as intercessor for Francesco del Giocondo. The reason for this speculation is that after working on the portrait for 4 years he stopped, this sudden stop coincided with his father’s death.

What is known is that he did not finish it until around 1519. At the time he began, he was at home in Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa traveled with him to Milan, Rome, and France.

9. At Home With Salai

List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-Salai-Gian Giacomo Caprotti de Oreno

Salai (Gian Giacomo Caprotti de Oreno) lived with Leonardo for over thirty years, giving him much trouble at first by stealing and other youthful misbehaviors. Leonardo treated him with tolerance, however and was quite fond of him. There is some belief that Leonardo Gave the painting to his assistant or apprentice as it is written that he bequeathed it to Salai. While this would appear to mean that he left it to him after his death, it is thought that Salai both held it during the years that Leonardo started painting it and stopped and then Da Vinci retained the painting when he moved to France so that he could finish the work.

Salai may also have taken the Mona Lisa home after Leonardo’s death and then it passed to King Francis I upon Salai’s death. It was listed among Salai’s belongings when he died.

8. The Home She Never Knew

List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list

The painting, as it is believed now, was commissioned by Francesco and Lisa del Giocondo (the sitting model) of the Gherardini family on the occasion of the birth of their second son, Andrea, and was supposed to go to their home in Florence. It is believed that a reason she was never delivered was that Leonardo Da Vinci loved the portrait so much that he couldn’t finished it during the time he was uninspired, his perfectionism would not allow it.

7. Clos Lucé

List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-clos luce France

King Francis invited Leonardo to his castle France in December of 1515, which marked the first time that the painting found its home in France. It is believed that he completed his work on the Mona Lisa in Clos Lucé in the same year he died. Clos Lucé formerly known as Chateau de Cloux was connected to the King’s home, the Chateau Amboise, by an underground tunnel passageway.

Clos Lucé, once a mansion of extraordinary beauty is now a museum. Leonardo died there in 1519. The King was fond of both Leonardo’s genius and work, he fell in love with the Mona Lisa Portrait as soon as he laid eyes on her.

6. Chateau Amboise and the Palace Fontainebleau

List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-chateau-amboise France

After Leonardo’s death, King Francis I took the Mona Lisa to his home, the Chateau Amboise, which was only 500 meters away from Clos Lucé if you use the underground passage. It is not clear when. He did not keep the painting there, however, choosing to move it to the Palace of Fontainebleau instead.

The King then invited the renowned architect Sebastiano Serlio and Rosso Fiorentino to build France’s first decorated gallery to display the art that he collected. The Mona Lisa may have graced the Chateau walls from time to time in order to show it off to the King’s company.

5. Palace Versailles

List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-The-palace-of-Versailles France

The painting spent many years at the Palace of Versailles. The Mona Lisa was given to King Louis XVI as a gift where it is rumored that he hung it in his bathroom, exposed to water vapors that greatly contributed to its deterioration. The king’s bathroom was larger than most people’s living rooms. Wherever in the palace it was kept, it remained there until after the French revolution.

4. Louvre and Tuileries Palace

List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-paris-jardin-des-tuileries France

With the fall of the French monarchy in 1789, the Mona Lisa officially became property of France. She found a home at one of the largest Museums in the world, the famous Louvre where she was first made available to the public in 1797.

Napoleon Bonaparte took “Madame Lisa” as he liked to call her, to his bedroom at the Tuileries Palace in 1800only to return her back to the museum in 1804. She stayed at the museum for nearly a century except for a brief period during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 where she was taken to the Arsenal de Brest. (A naval military infrastructure)

The Louvre was to be her final resting place and it was thought that she would be safe; however, the Mona Lisa has a way of attracting controversy despite her humble content.

3. The Theft of the Mona Lisa

Theft of Mona Lisa from Louvre, Paris 3.9. 1911-List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-mona lisa theft

August 20, 1911, Museum janitor Vincenzo Peruggia hides in the Louvre overnight on Sunday with the knowledge that the museum is closed on Monday. He takes the painting, which is not on canvas but wood from a Poplar tree and hides it under his coat. He then walked out of the Louvre without being stopped. The posted guard had left his station to fetch a pail of water. The Museum stood closed for over a week while investigations were on course, during which Pablo Picasso was among the suspects of the theft.

Vincenzo kept the Mona Lisa in a chest in his apartment for two years. When the world has finally decided that the Mona Lisa is gone forever, he moved back to Florence, Italy and contacted Italian art gallery owner Alfredo Geri. Vincenzo expected a reward for returning the Mona Lisa to Italy under the misconception that Napoleon Bonaparte had stolen it from his Country. He apparently did not know that Leonardo da Vinci had moved it to France personally.

He was caught and convicted but the public considered him somewhat of a hero and he only served a couple of months of his yearlong sentence.

Mona Lisa has no eyebrows and eyelashes. It was a common practice at this time for women to pluck them out, as they were considered to be unattractive.

2. Loc-Dieu Abbey, the Devils Place

Theft of Mona Lisa from Louvre, Paris 3.9. 1911-List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-loc dieu abbey

During the uprising of WWII French Curators were known to run pre-war drills to practice the quick removal of artworks from museums and art galleries, they had a list of churches and castles as potential hiding places. One of these locations was Loc-Dieu Abbey, originally built on a place known as the Devil’s place, Loc-Dieu Abbey was established in 1123 and renamed God’s place by monks. It is located near Martiel, France. Having been rebuilt and refortified in 1470, it became the perfect hiding place for the Mona Lisa and other great works of art in 1940 when Germany was on the move, claiming everything they could find. The abbey is now open to the public.

1. The Louvre

Theft of Mona Lisa from Louvre, Paris 3.9. 1911-List of Ten Homes and Keepers of the Mona Lisa Before the Louvre-top ten list-Louvre

The Mona Lisa now graces its home in the Louvre. After its absence, the Mona Lisa was greeted with reverence. However it was during her stay at the Louvre that Mona Lisa suffered the most atrocious attempts at her integrity. In 1956, she was doused with Acid by a lunatic and later that same year another fruitcake threw a rock at the painting. She was later painted over the damaged area. Ever since this year, extra security measures were taken to prevent any more damaging attempts, namely bulletproof glass.

These same measures would later prevent her from being damaged by red paint from yet another lunatic during the time Mona Lisa was temporarily on display at Tokyo National Museum, and recently from a mug thrown at her. Most people agree that she belongs in the Louvre where she receives the special care that she needs to help keep her restored for years to come.

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