The appeal by an Italian heritage committee chaired by high-profile Italian art historian, Silvano Vincenti, was launched on the world wide web. It has won the backing of the
The Mona Lisa is known as la joconde in French and la gioconda in Italian because it is widely believed to be a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, a member of the wealthy Gherardini family.
In 2011, Silvano Vincenti claimed that it was a picture of Gian Giacomo Caprotti, an apprentice and possible lover to Leonardo.
provincial government of Florence, where Leonardo painted it in the early 1500s.
But no formal approach has been made to the Louvre.
It doesn't look as if it would be worth the bother, however, since officials have already ruled out a positive response.
Sending the museum’s most popular artwork anywhere is “absolutely unthinkable”, the museum’s head of painting Vincent Pomarède told the AFP news agency on Friday.
Crowds gather in front of the world-famous masterpiece from dawn to dusk every day the Louvre is open, but that is not the reason for the reluctance to let la joconde, as the French call her, leave her adopted home, Pomarède said.
The painting is “extremely fragile” and a journey would cause “irreversible damage”, he said.
Despite his artistic genius, Leonardo seemed unconcerned about how long his works would last and used materials which have proved difficult to preserve. The Mona Lisa is painted in oils on a very thin poplar wood panel and is currently exhibited behind an air-conditioned panel.
The impossibility of controlling temperatures and the vibrations inevitable in a journey would be major risks, according to Pomarède.
The Mona Lisa has travelled before.
It was stolen by an Italian in 1911 and returned in 1913 after he tried to sell the work to a Florentine collector and was arrested for his pains.
Since then it has gone to the US in 1963 and Japan in 1974 but officials say it suffered badly during both trips.