OFF with her head! Thus ended the reign of the French monarchy.
Kings and queens may have sat on the French seat of power at the Louvre Palace, which originally built as a fortress, but since the demise of the monarchy, a new power has emerged. A "queen" resides within its walls. She's of Italian descent and her name is Mona Lisa.
The Louvre, Mona Lisa's realm in the 1st arrondissement in the French Capital, is deemed as the greatest among the world's largest museums.
What started with a display of 537 paintings and 184 objects of art when it opened in August 1793 has grown to almost 35,000 pieces of artworks today. Its history, architecture and treasures, may account for why it's the most visited museum in the world.
With such a great number of art, it will take more than one lifetime for an avid art fan to truly appreciate and embrace what the Louvre has to offer. But there is one painting every tourist wants to see when entering the museum-the painting of Mona Lisa, the reigning queen of the Louvre.
It's the most visited painting in the world. Not only that, the Mona Lisa holds the prestige of "the best known, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world."
Admit it, your first glance of the half-smiling Mona Lisa came as a surprise, it will be the same for the rest who will see it for the first time. The bigger than life portrait is not as big in size as we expect it to be. Leonardo da Vinci's half-length (thought to be) portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco Giocondo, is as big as your regular pillow at 30" x 21". The title Mona Lisa comes from "Mona," an Italian polite address for a woman, and "Lisa" for the subject's name.
As to the time of the painting's completion, it is written that historians can't pinpoint an exact time, all estimates: start of painting - between 1503 or 1506 in Florence, then left it unfinished, and finishing and refining between 1516-1517.
Before Mona Lisa finally settled in the palace, her official "kingdom," in peace today, she moved around France from the time of the creator's death to today. She found residence in palaces and chateaus-Palace of Fontainebleu & Palace of Versailles, Chateau d'Amboise and Chateu de Chambord, and seen three conflicts-the French Revolution, Franco-Prussian War and World War II. Although, she was put on permanent exhibition at the Louvre since 1797, she was taken out of the museum for security reasons during the last two wars.
Not many of us know this-she was "kidnapped" in August 1911 by a Louvre employee, Vincenzo Peruggia, who entered the museum on regular hours, hid in a broom closet and exited with the painting under his coat after the museum had closed. She was recovered and displayed again in 1913.
If you are at the top, you will have your share of both admirers and haters. With Mona Lisa, it was the same. While her fans line up to see her, the few who dislike her hurl more than hurting words like acid and a rock, both horrid incidents transpiring in the same year, 1956. The damage caused was addressed and she was restored back to her former glory.
Today, while she sits on her throne at her sala and sees her millions of fans day in and out, don't wonder why she's behind bulletproof glass. It has protected her from more ill purposed attempts like a getting sprayed with red paint in 1974 and hurled with a souvenir mug in 2009.
How about you, have you seen this Italian star? If you had, what was your first impression? Do tell.
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