Detail of The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, Leonardo da Vinci, 1508.  

In 1506, after seven years of relocating across Italy.  Leonardo was finally given permission by the French government, to return to his vineyard in Milan.  Where for nearly a decade he worked on the masterpieces The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, and Leda and the Swan.  Continuing his work on the portrait, La Joconde, of Isabella d'Este.  The Marchioness ruling neighboring Mantua.  

Eventually, the Italian Wars would once again drive Leonardo from his home.  Leonardo found himself in the patronage of Pope Leo X, one of the newly reinstated Medici brothers.  In 1513, Leonardo left for Rome, leaving behind his vineyard in Milan.  

In 1513 Isabella traveled to Rome and was hosted by the Pope during her stay.  In Isabella's honour Leo X presented the play "La Calandra," by Cardinal Bibbiena in the Vatican on the 15th of December.  The production lauded decades later by Giorgio Vasari in his 1550 publication.  Isabella remained through the winter and carnival in Rome.  Returning to Mantua in March of 1514, Isabella wrote Cardinal Bibbiena, "I am here in Mantua, but all my heart is in Rome." 

The following year the French king, Francis I, invaded northern Italy.  In 1515, Giovanni Medici paid Leonardo forty ducati to attend a peace treaty with Francis I.  During these negotiations, Leonardo’s service was offered to the invading king.  The next spring Leonardo left for his appointment in France.  Taking with him the finished portrait, La Joconde.  

Leonardo recorded in 1516, “the Medici made me, and destroyed me.”  Leonardo, now 64 years-old, spent his remaining three years in the service of the King of France.  Living at the Chateau du Clos Luce near the royal residence Chateau d’Amboise.  Accompanied by his trusted apprentice Francesco Melzi and adopted son, Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno.

Isabella made a pilgrimage to France in the summer of 1516.  Where she traveled incognito in the foreign land.  Isabella's husband had driven the French out of Italy in the Battle of Fornovo.  Traveling with a small entourage, Isabella visited many towns and churches.  Before returning to Mantua with the onset of autumn weather.  

Rinaldo Ariosto was a diplomatic envoy for Isabella d’Este and cousin of the famed poet Ludovico Ariosto.  A patron of Ludovico, Isabella is described in his epic poem Orlando Furioso.   “Friend of glorious deeds and fair studies, liberal, great-hearted Isabella.”   In 1517, Rinaldo travels to France.  Where he wrote to Mantua describing Leonardo’s mechanical creation.  A “lion that opened, and in the inside it was all blue, which signified love.”

In October of 1518, Leonardo was visited by Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona, the cousin of Isabella d’Este.  Accompanied by secretary Antonio de Beatis.  De Beatis recorded the paintings in Leonardo’s studio, including “A certain lady from Lombardy is painted in oil, from life, quite beautiful.”  Describing Isabella d'Este, the Marchioness of Mantua, from the Lombardy region.


Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona recognized his maternal cousin Isabella.  On his return trip the cardinal stopped to view Leonardo’s The Last Supper in Milan.  Before joining his cousin Isabella in Mantua, on his way back to the Vatican in Rome.  


Leonardo died the following spring in France.  Leonardo never returned to Italy, his body laid to rest in France.  The painting La Joconde bequeathed to his assistant Salai.  Found its way into the collection of the ruling king, Francis I.  The portrait joined the growing acquisitions in the gallery at the Palace of Fontainebleau.  Where the portrait remained for nearly three hundred years, hidden behind palace walls. 

Until the French Revolution, when royal collections were gathered for the public, in the vanquished Louvre Palace.  Joining together with the spoils of war from the victories of Emperor Napoleon I.  Created the museum for the people, the Louvre.  Which to this day, houses the portrait, La Joconde.