Tuesday, 8 January 2013

On this Day: 8th January 1963 – Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is exhibited in the United States for the first time

From December 1962 to March 1963, the French government lent it to the United States to be displayed in New York City and Washington, D.C. In 1974, the painting was exhibited in Tokyo and Moscow.

Before the 1962–1963 tour, the painting was assessed, for insurance purposes, as valued at $100 million; the insurance was not bought. Instead more money was spent on security. As an expensive painting, it has only recently been surpassed, in terms of actual price, by four other paintings: the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt, which was sold for $135 million, the Woman III by Willem de Kooning sold for $138 million in November 2006, and No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock sold for $140 million in November 2006 and one painting from The Card Players series by Paul Cezanne sold for a record of more than $250million. Although these figures are greater than the 1962 figure at which the Mona Lisa was valued, the comparison does not account for the change in prices due to inflation – $100 million in 1962 is approximately $720 million in 2010 when adjusted for inflation using the US Consumer Price Index.

This special one-picture loan was made directly to the President of the United States and the American people by the government of the French Republic. The French Minister of Cultural Affairs, André Malraux, accompanied the painting to the United States. All arrangements were handled by the White House. A special viewing was held on Tuesday, January 8, for President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the Diplomatic Corps.

The painting was installed on a baffle draped in red velvet, in the center of the West Sculpture Hall, and was guarded around the clock by United States Marines. The Gallery added 4 hours of viewing time per day. This was the first time the Gallery was open every evening. Because of the crowds, visitors had to wait in line up to 2 hours. The painting was also shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from February 7 to March 4, and returned to France aboard the S.S. United States on March 7.

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Research courtesy of Wikipedia


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