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‘Mona Lisa’ could be set to make rare tour of France

The "Mona Lisa", Da Vinci's masterpiece which has spent nearly all of the past 500 years in Paris, could soon be smiling at audiences across France as part of a rare tour, the country's culture minister said Thursday.

'Mona Lisa' could be set to make rare tour of France
Photo: Wikicommons
Francoise Nyssen told Europe 1 radio she was “seriously considering” the move as part of travelling exhibition of the country's most prestigious artworks.
   
“I am meeting with the president of the Louvre this morning and I'm going to discuss the matter again,” Nyssen said, adding that she didn't see why such works should be kept in the one place.
   
“My priority is to work against cultural segregation, and a large-scale plan for moving them around is a main way of doing that.”
   
The painting, whose mysterious smile has long captivated artists and admirers, draws millions of people to the Louvre each year.
 
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French convinced they have unearthed nude sketch of Mona Lisa Photo: Domaine de Chantilly Screenshot/AFP   

But it has rarely ventured outside the museum's walls, with officials citing concerns for the fragility and security of the painting, which was stolen from the Louvre in 1911, resurfacing only two years later in Florence.
   
Nyssen dismissed worries about preserving the painting, citing President Emmanuel Macron's offer to loan Britain the delicate near-1,000-year-old Bayeux Tapestry in 2022 while the museum housing the embroidery is renovated.
   
The mayor of the northern French city of Lens, home of an extension of the Louvre since 2012, has already declared his interest in housing the painting, which last left the Louvre for shows in Tokyo and Moscow in 1974.
   
Before that, it spent a few months in Washington and New York in 1963, and was extracted for safekeeping during World Wars I and II.
   
In 2013, the museum refused a request from the city of Florence, where Da Vinci is believed to have started the work, to lend it for an exhibit.
   
The request may have stirred up bad memories among French officials, given that it was stolen by an Italian.

TOURISM

New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

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