JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1822KENNEDYS WELCOME MONA LISA
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-three years ago today, January 8, 1963, the most famous painting in the world, Mona Lisa, was welcomed to the United States today by President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy at the National Gallery of Art.
The President and First Lady also welcomed French Minister of Culture Andre Malraux* who arranged for approval of the loan of the painting from the government of France and the Louvre.
The Mona Lisa is the work of Leonardo da Vinci** who began the painting in Florence, Italy between 1503 and 1505. The artist left the painting unfinished for many years but resumed his work and finished it before his death.
The Mona Lisa, which was named for Lisa del Giocondo***, wife of a wealthy merchant in Florence, was sold to King Francois I of France.
In his address at the National Gallery of Art, President Kennedy said...
"We in the United States are grateful for this loan from the leading artistic power in the world, France.
This painting is the second lady that the people of France have sent to the United States & though she will not stay with us as long as the Statue of Liberty, our appreciation is equally great.
Leonardo da Vinci was....an artist & a sculptor, a architect & a scientist, & a military engineer, an occupation which he pursued....in order to preserve the chief gift of nature, which is liberty.
In this belief he expresses the most profound premises of our own two nations."
*Andre Malraux (1901-1976) was born in Paris, France & served as Minister of Cultural Affairs from 1959 to 1965. AM launched an innovative program to clean blackened French buildings revealing natural stone features.
**Leonardo da Vinci was born in Vinci, Republic of Florence, Italy. LdV is widely regarded as the greatest painter of all time as well as the Father of Palentology, Ichnology & Archaeology. He is also credited with the invention of the parachute & helicopter.
***Lisa del Giocondo (1479-1542) was born in Florence in an aristocratic family which had lost influence. She & her husband, a cloth & silk merchant, had 5 children.