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The other day, this photograph of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa being removed from storage made its way across the web—that’s it above. It’s a shot from 1945, showing the return of the painting to the hands of museum directors at the Louvre. Last year, it came to the world’s attention that more than 1,500 modernist paintings stolen during World War Two were recovered—the Louvre administration sought to prevent that wayward fate for the Mona Lisa, and succeeded.

In 1939, at the font of World War Two, thousands of pieces of art were shepherded away from the Louvre to safe houses throughout France. Not a single painting was exhibited in the museum during the war, an unprecedented situation. The Mona Lisa in particular was given special care, wrapped in waterproof paper, boxed up, and sent to chateaux in the French countryside. For the next six years, it was kept under the bed of its guardian so that someone would always be with the artwork, even in the dead of night.

This photograph represents the denouement of the ordeal, returning the world’s most famous painting to her home after more than five years in exile. 

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[via Classic Pix]