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Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519)
Portrait of Mona Lisa
Photo courtesy of Musée du Louvre


By Antoine du Rocher

PARIS, 6 April 2005— After a four-year renovation by Peruvian architect Lorenzo Piqueras, the Salle des Etats of the Musée du Louvre reopens its doors to the public today. The room will house some fifty 16th-century Italian paintings of the Venetian School including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Paolo Veronese's Marriage at Cana.

The lady with the enigmatic smile was moved from the much smaller Salle Rosa to her new home, in order to better accomodate the vast number of tourists  who come to admire the painting.

Painted between 1503 and 1506 on a thin panel of wood, the famous portrait is thought to be that of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo. It has been in the Musée du Louvre since 1804 and is known to the French public as la Joconde.



Located on the first floor of the Denon wing, between the Denon Pavillon and the Grande Galerie, the Salle des Etats was designed by the architect Hector Lefuel between 1855 and 1857. In the 4.8 million euro ($6.1 million) refurbished space, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece hangs behind an unbreakable, non-reflective glass covering.

Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)
Marriage at Cana
Photo courtesy of Musée du Louvre

Opposite, at a distance of 28 meters, hangs Veronese's  Marriage at Cana. The Veronese painting, which depicts the wedding feast where Christ changed water into wine, is the largest painting in the Louvre. 

The throng of wedding guests, architecture and blue skies that make up Veronese's spectacular composition, and the other works in the room, should give the Leonardo's lady plenty to peruse in her new home—that is, if she can see over the heads of her never-ending throng of admirers, who stream past, on average, at more than 1,500 every hour.

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