This time it isn’t the enigmatic smile that has got people talking about Mona Lisa, but a claim that the Musee du Louvre in Paris is worse off for being the home of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece.
Millions of visitors troop in to the Louvre, in itself an architectural marvel and heritage structure, just to view the oil-on-wood painting Da Vinci is believed to have completed in 1507. Since the French Revolution, this Renaissance masterpiece has been housed here except for a brief period when it was stolen.
It is being held against Mona Lisa that she overshadows all the other masterpieces in the Louvre, and the magnificent museum itself.
True, the glory of Mona Lisa is such that visitors tend to ignore the many great specimens of Renaissance art, Egyptian antiquities and Greek sculptures. The Rembrandts and Raphaels, Rubens and Vermeer, Michelangelo and even the other Da Vinci works fade into the background as the gaze is focussed on Mona Lisa.
Yet, many visitors, drawn in by the aura around the painting, leave unimpressed by this relatively small-sized oil-on-wood work. For the informed museum-goer, however, it signifies a moment in art history that can’t be ignored. If the great Flemish art in the hall that houses Mona Lisa is largely ignored as a consequence, so be it.
If it is just hype that draws people to her, the crowd will disperse, later if not sooner. There is, however, no reason to force the crowd to exit. Or to take down Mona Lisa from that Louvre wall. Cut out the noise, and the smile will continue to reach out to you. Stay or leave, but let her be on the wall surrounded by many masters.
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