Saving Mona Lisa is the story of Leonardo da Vinci and two of his apprentices clashing over the ultimate fate of a painting that had achieved great renown soon after everyone thought it was finished...everyone, that is, except Leonardo.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
-Leonardo da Vinci
On September 24, 1513, Leonardo da Vinci recorded in his journal that he was departing for Rome, via Florence. For the previous two years there is no detailed record of his activities and only sketchy evidence of his whereabouts. We know that sometime after December 1511 he left Milan and moved to the Villa Melzi in Vaprio d Adda, a small town on a river about a half-day s ride east. Here he and his bottega were hosted comfortably by the Count of Vaprio, father of Francesco Melzi, Leonardo s youngest apprentice.
Eight years previously, Leonardo had been residing temporarily in his native Florence, where he was commissioned to paint a portrait of a wealthy merchant s young wife. This portrait, called La Gioconda and known to us as Mona Lisa, exercised a strange hold on the artist. He refused to finish it or surrender it to its rightful owner, keeping it close, as one would a mistress. Apparently, this obsession baffled everyone who knew of it.
Recounted through the eyes of the youthful Francesco, the following story of the aging artist and his muse is set during the last few months of his hiatus at the Villa Melzi.
***The Kindle version of Saving Mona Lisa is programmed for easy reader navigation and includes short bios of the principal characters, maps, historical Afterword, Italian glossary, and over 30 illustrations and photographs of Leonardo s most important works.