Synopses & Reviews
In December 1962 Da Vincis Mona Lisa
set sail from Paris to New York for what was arguably the riskiest art exhibition ever mounted. The fragile icon traveled like a head of state, with armed guards and military surveillance, in a temperature-controlled vault. Masterminding the entire show was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. For eighty-eight charmed days, Lisa Fever” swept the nation as nearly two million Americans attended exhibits in Washington, D.C. and New York. It was the greatest outpouring of appreciation for a single work of art in American history and the beginning of our nations love affair with the arts.
Acclaimed biographer Margaret Leslie Davis tells the tale in charming fashion” (USA Today), revealing a saga filled with international intrigue and the irresistible charm of Camelot and its queen.
"The 1963 American exhibition of the Mona Lisa in New York City and Washington, D.C., was America's first blockbuster art show, and Davis recounts in numbing detail the negotiations, preparations, flummoxes and successes of the exhibit. The exhibition was masterminded by the diplomatically savvy Mrs. Kennedy, whose personal relationships with French cultural minister Andr Malraux and National Gallery director John Walker overcame negative French press and concerns over subjecting a fragile artwork to a transatlantic journey. Heavily guarded and packed in a custom strong box, the Mona Lisa traveled in a first-class cabin on the USS France. Though Walker planned the exhibit with military precision, the opening ceremony was chaotic, and the painting was badly hung and poorly lit. Although Davis's (Rivers in the Desert) tale of the inner workings of a major art exhibition has its moments, it's undermined by padding (like the text of an imagined interview of La Gioconda by a 'newspaper reporter with nothing to report') and the author's fawning over 'Jackie.' 16 pages of b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
New York Observer, 12/19/08
"Ms Davis' description...makes you dizzy with nostalgia...I would call Mona Lisa in Camelot escapist nonfiction--except that it's firmly grounded in historical fact, and its triumphant heroine, though she's the stuff of fantasy, is as real as you and me."
“Offers an intriguing sketch of Jackie - a woman as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa herself.”
“Jackie lovers will be thrilled.”
Bookpage, October 2008
“Well written, extensively researched and meticulously rendered—a masterpiece in its own right.”
ABA newsletter, Shelf Awareness, Columbus Post-Dispatch, November 2008
“[An] indie favorite.”
USA Today, 12/11/08
“Davis tells the tale in charming fashion.”
The Women on the Web, September 2008
“Margaret Davis is known for her fascinating histories and this is a recent one with a gloss, chock-full of glamour, big rich names, super philanthropy, a dedicated woman who was willing to trade her charm for a few Cézannes in the White House and the most famous painting in the world for the National Gallery…An engaging and dynamite story that I had never known and, of course, I thought I knew everything. This is a really important little addition to American museum and art history.”
The fascinating, untold story of an 88-day visit that forever changed America, and the unofficial ambassador behind it.
As featured in Vanity Fair, this little gem” is a terrific, fascinating story” (Good Morning America) that will leave Jackie lovers...thrilled” (Kirkus Reviews).
About the Author
Margaret Leslie Davis is the author of six books, including The Culture Broker: Franklin Murphy and the Transformation of Los Angeles and Rivers in the Desert, which Newsweek called a fascinating history,” soon to be a major motion picture. She lives in Los Angeles.