Monday, July 4, 2011

Why the Mona Lisa Can’t (Won’t?) Go Home Again

People who can name only one painting in the world usually name the Mona Lisa. For better or worse, Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of (probably) Lisa del Giocondo rises above all cultural barriers and transcends taste with a smile. As Donald Sassoon argued in his 2001 book Becoming Mona Lisa: The Making of a Global Icon, a large part of that fame came from the infamous theft of the painting in 1911, when Vincenzo Peruggia walked out of the Louvre with the work hidden under his coat and fled to his homeland of Italy, which Peruggia believed to be the painting’s homeland, too. After waiting two years, Peruggia tried to sell the painting to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. After Peruggia’s arrest, the Mona Lisa toured her homeland one last time before heading back to the Louvre. With the 100th anniversary of that theft looming this August, the Uffizi and Italy want La Gioconda (the Italian nickname) back, at least for a while, but the Louvre and France say La Joconde (the French nickname) is going nowhere. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Why the Mona Lisa Can’t (Won’t?) Go Home Again."


David said...

A small contribution to the subject -
- an image I made a couple of years ago: Lisa is not passive, she lets the painter (whose name is not mentioned) to wait while she finishes her makeup, and she understands that 500 years later people will talk about her, and this is the reason for her smile.

Hels said...

I am all for museums and nations repatriating art back to the original owners, but only through the courts. Not via self-help programmes.

Samantha said...

I recently visited the Walters Art Museum. The museum has an excellent copy of the Mona Lisa on display ( Visitors really have to look for the painting though! It is hanging above a doorway in the 16th century, salon-styled gallery.


David said...

If the Mona Lisa were to go back to the Uffizi for a short visit it surely would be at home. Leonardo began the painting around the time he started the drawings for his Battle of Anghiari that was to grace the walls of the Great Hall of the 500 in the Palazzo Vecchio, which is next door to the Uffizi. And that was a story in itself - a head to head competition against Michelangelo, a story I'll be telling at in a few weeks time.