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Mar 06, 2018 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association announced today the pre-sale of its new edition of Mona Lisa in Camelot: How Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci’s Masterpiece Charmed and Captivated a Nation. First released by DeCapo Press in 2008, the book has been enhanced and expanded by the White House Historical Association with images of items drawn from the archives of the National Gallery of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Historical documents new to this edition include:

•Reproductions of the exhibition opening invitations sent by the National Gallery on behalf of President John F. Kennedy.

•The National Gallery’s full exhibit catalogue from 1963

•The Louvre’s art and historical essay on the Mona Lisa

•Color images of the exhibit opening with the Kennedys in attendance

•The loan agreement between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Government of the French Republic and the receipt confirming the painting’s return

The new edition of Mona Lisa in Camelot includes a preface by Association President Stewart McLaurin, who writes: “Margaret Leslie Davis’s captivating account of the loan of the Mona Lisa by France is of special interest to the White House Historical Association because the circumstances that brought the masterpiece to the United States are the same circumstances that gave birth to the White House Historical Association. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was determined to share the greatest painting in the world with the American people, and just as determined to make the White House a ‘living museum’ accessible to the nation.”

Acclaimed biographer Margaret Leslie Davis tells the fascinating true story of a legend’s celebrated visit and the cultural ambassador who helped bring her to America. In December 1962, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa set sail from Paris to New York for what many knew would be the riskiest art exhibition ever mounted. The fragile painting, sealed in a temperature-controlled bulletproof box, traveled like a head of state accompanied by armed guards and constant surveillance. The driving force behind the high-profile visit was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who overcame the fierce objections of art officials who feared the journey would ruin the world’s most celebrated smile and convinced French Cultural Minister André Malraux and National Gallery Director John Walker to share the masterpiece with the American people. Gathering rare archival documents, Davis has woven a tantalizing saga with international intrigue and the irresistible charm of Camelot.

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $45 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission. 

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

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