National Geographic : 1963 Jun
This same writer described La Gioconda as "robust" and "well-developed," but in a later paragraph added: "And yet this thoroughly bourgeois woman, ripened and not very happy and not partic ularly unhappy, had been able to fascinate Leonardo more than any other woman he met in all his life." Perhaps this was one reason Leonardo nev er turned the painting over to Lisa's husband, but carried it wherever he went-to Milan, to Rome, and then across the Alps to France, claiming that it was not yet finished. He set tled in France in 1516, at the invitation of King Francis I, in the Chateau de Cloux, near the king's palace at Amboise. Leonardo had suffered a severe stroke and did not have long to live. He wrote his will on Easter Eve, and died May 2, 1519. Leonardo Sold Lisa, but Never Delivered King Francis I is reported to have paid Leonardo 4,000 gold crowns for the Mona Lisa, but even he did not get immediate pos session. The master kept the painting hanging on a wall of his chateau to the day he died. Thereafter La Gioconda belonged to Fran cis I and to the kings and emperors who fol Butter - and - sugar masterwork by ship's baker causes merri ment as the France arrives at New York. Hand on true picture's case, John Walker, Di rector of the National Gallery of Art, Wash ington, D. C., takes custody of Mona Lisa from Jean Chatelain (center right), Director of French Museums. Stevedores Muscle the Portrait Ashore Secret Service agents shepherd the coffer along a red carpet in New York. Save for a kidnaping in 1911 by an Italian workman who thought the mas terpiece belonged in Italy, Mona Lisa is making her first trip outside France since Leonardo brought her to the court of Fran cis I in 1516. 843 lowed him. She dwelt at Fontainebleau, at Versailles, and at the Tuileries, where in 1800 she adorned Napoleon's bedroom wall. Fit tingly enough, she has hung in the Louvre next to a Titian portrait of Francis I. Before docking in New York, I dreamed up another chat with my friend. What did she think, I asked, about all the fuss in Paris over her trip to the United States. One commenta tor had said: "You don't ask a beautiful wom an to come to you-you go to see her." "That was very kind, Edouard," she re plied, "but why shouldn't I go to your coun try? Over the years, millions of Americans have come to see me. Not only American tour ists, but also your brave doughboys of the First World War and your GI's of the Second. So I say, why should I not go to Washington? I think I owe the Americans a visit." Sometime later I almost suspected that the brilliant Andre Malraux also had com muned with Lisa in a dream. In moving words he expressed a similar thought. This was after the Mona Lisa had been ushered through customs in New York with her entourage and escorted to Washington. She traveled in regal style, in a black van guarded by a Secret Service detail.