In 1516 at aged 64 Leonardo da Vinci left Rome and traveled through France, armed with his sketchbooks and three of his most famous paintings: Mona Lisa, The Virgin and Child, with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist.
Leonardo was invited by King Francis I to work at the Clos Lucé near the Château d’Amboise. Believed that he took the Mona Lisa with him and continued to work on it after he moved to France. The aging polymath lived his last years in this house, until his death in 1519.
The house today ranks as a ‘historical monument’ and therefore is protected from demolition or reconstruction. After 1855 it became a well-known museum about Leonardo da Vinci’s life.
Although the Louvre states that it was painted between 1503 and 1506, art historian Martin Kemp says that there are some difficulties in confirming the dates with certainty. In addition, many Leonardo experts, such as Carlo Pedretti and Alessandro Vezzosi, are of the opinion that the painting is characteristic of Leonardo’s style in the final years of his life, post-1513.
Art historian Carmen C. Bambach has concluded that Leonardo probably continued refining the work until 1516 or 1517. Leonardo’s right hand was paralytic circa 1517, which may indicate why he left the Mona Lisa unfinished.