Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, which is housed inside the illustrious Louvre Museum in Paris, was moved this week for the first time in 14 years to another room. The iconic painting will be displayed in the Galerie Médicis till October, while the Salle des États, its original spot, undergoes renovations.
Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez told news agency AFP that the Galerie Médicis was only "100 paces" away from the Salle des États. Yet, according to a BBC report, the relocation was still fraught with risks, considering the fragility of the 16th century painting.
“People pose one big risk. This is why gallery workers try to arrange these moves for a time of day when there are fewer visitors. The Louvre, for example, chose to move Mona Lisa in the evening, after the museum had closed,” says the report.
Nonetheless, the Mosa Lisa has changed homes in the past.
Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in the Italian city of Florence, but in 1516 he was invited by King François I to France, where scholars believe he finished the painting. After da Vinci’s death, the king bought the Mona Lisa and exhibited it at the Palace of Fontainebleau, where it would remain for more than 100 years, when it was shifted to the Palace of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV.
Mona Lisa moved to its current home at the Louvre, following the French Revolution, albeit after a brief detour. “Napoleon borrowed the painting to decorate his bedroom in the Tuileries Palace for four years. In 1804, Mona Lisa finally was finally exhibited at the Louvre’s Grand Gallery,” according to artstor.org.
The painting last left France in 1974, when it was “loaned” for exhibitions to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Russia and to Tokyo National Museum in Japan.
In the 1960s, Mona Lisa was loaned to Washington DC's National Gallery and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art for exhibitions, despite protests in France over fears that the cross-Atlantic journey could damage the precious artwork.
In 1911, an Italian gallery worker stole the painting from the Louvre but it eventually re-emerged in Florence two years later and was brought back to France.