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Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 13:30 GMT
Mona Lisa to move home
Louvre
The Louvre will open a separate room for the Mona Lisa
The Louvre museum in Paris is to build a separate room to house the Mona Lisa, giving up to five million visitors a year the chance to see the painting.

The $3.5m (2.3m) project will house the painting separately from other works of Venetian Renaissance art, which tend to be overshadowed by the popularity of the painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
Arguably the most famous portrait painting in the world
"There will be a room for her alone - it's the painting that everyone who comes to the Louvre wants to see but at the moment there are so many people that you cannot see it very well," said Louvre spokesman Christophe Monin.

Work on the new room starts in April, where special lighting and security will be installed to safeguard the work.

Theft

Visitors will be able to see the Mona Lisa in a temporary display until the end of 2002 when the redesigned Venetian Renaissance room is expected to open.

The Mona Lisa, which is also known as La Giaconda, became world famous after it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911.

The painting was missing for two years before police traced the theft to Italian painter Vincenzo Peruggia who stole the work to return it to its country of origin.

Since then the painting has only left the Louvre on two occasions: in 1963 when it was taken to be exhibited in the United States and again in 1974 when it was shown in Japan.

It was painted in the 16th Century and the identity of the subject in the painting remains hotly contested.

Theories about the woman suggest she is:

  • Isabelle of Este, who reigned at Mantua
  • a mistress of Italian noble Giuliano di Medici
  • an ideal woman
  • an adolescent boy dressed as a woman
  • a self-portrait

See also:

06 Jul 98 | Europe
Painting stolen from Louvre
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