*UPDATE: Following the statement of the French Minister of Culture, Louvre’s President Jean-Luc Martinez said that lending the Mona Lisa for other exhibitions was out of the question.
French Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen took the world by surprise on March 1st 2018. Indeed, she then announced that the Mona Lisa could leave the Louvre Museum for a loan to worldwide exhibitions in the major museums.
The arrival of the Mona Lisa to the Louvre
Mona Lisa’s portrait, supposedly the depiction of Lisa Gherardini, wife of a cloth merchant in Florence named Francesco del Giocondo, was painted around 1503 by Leonardo Da Vinci prior to joining the collection of King François the 1st upon the Artist’s death. It is the first time that the subject is depicted so closely in an Italian portrait. Until 1646 the Old Master’s canvas was at the Château de Fontainebleau. Ten years later, the Artwork was transferred to Versailles under King Louis the 14th ruling. However, the masterpiece did not enter the Louvre’s collection until 1797. As a result, the public got to see it for the first time in 1798. Nevertheless, the canvas was displaced several times before staying more permanently at the museum after 1870. Since its loan to Tokyo and Moscow in 1974, the Artwork never left its famous site at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The French Minister of Culture’s announcement
On March 1st, 2018, French Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen was invited by Europe 1. As a result, during her radio interview, she said she was “seriously considering” the possibility of organizing a travelling exhibition of the Old French Masters’ Artworks. Indeed, she mentioned the fact that she has already started to discuss with the Louvre’s President. Under former French President François Hollande’s term, the Italian city of Florence sent out a request to get the canvas back to Leonardo Da Vinci’s hometown. However, the demand was turned down by the French government at the time. As a result, Françoise Nyssen’s policy drastically differs from the one of her predecessors. In fact, the idea is not to keep all French treasures in one place but rather sharing with the rest of the world.
Sharing the French treasures
On the occasion of her interview with Europe 1, the French Minister of Culture said: “My priority is to work against cultural segregation, and a large-scale plan for moving [the works] around is a main way of doing that.” Nevertheless, the question of knowing whether or not the Mona Lisa will be part of this policy remains unclear. Sylvain Robert who is the mayor of the city of Lens where the Louvre has a branch, quickly came forward to launch a campaign to ask for the canvas to be exhibited in the museum. On the same note of Françoise Nyssen’s declaration, President Emmanuel Macron already secured the loan of the 1000 years old Bayeux tapestry in Brittany. Indeed, the tapestry should leave France and the United Kingdom in 2022 after its restoration.
Read our article about Art-Trope Artist and photographer Bruno Victoria here.