That was the first thing to consciously surface in my mind today as I woke up. How random my brain is! Perhaps I was dreaming about La Jaconde, I dunno. I usually remember my dreams, or upon waking have a feeling that I was dreaming. Not so today, just that one sentence floating in my mind’s eye:
Who Stole The Mona Lisa?
Well up until I sat down to Google that exact question, I wasn’t really sure if the Mona Lisa had ever actually been stolen. Quelle horreur! Turns out she was! On Monday morning, August 21st, 1911 she disappeared from off her perch on the wall of the Louvre museum.
You can read all about about Right Here. What a well written piece on the whole affair! The only misstep in my opinion was the author’s (Simon Kuper) contention that the thief was “the kind of disgruntled immigrant who in a different time and a different place might have turned to terrorism instead of art theft.” Really dude?
It isn’t like terrorism and the tools to deal it out are only a modern day phenomenon. Vincenzo Peruggia, the guy who stole the Mona Lisa, could have very easily set fire to ish inside the museum, or went on a shooting spree dans La Place de la Concorde or something. They did have incendiary devices and guns way back in 1911, you know.
From what I can tell, the one thing that people agree on about this whole dramatic affair, is that the theft itself was responsible for making Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of an Italian housewife so famous. From the byline of the article:
“The theft of the world’s most famous portrait from the Louvre 100 years ago was not only the art heist of the century. It confirmed that this picture of a smiling woman was far more than a painting.”
Another article from the many I pulled up had this to say about it: “The audacious theft of Leonardo’s masterpiece in 1911 made La Giaconda an overnight star”.
I have seen the Mona Lisa myself. Nothing prepared me for how small the painting actually is! I had previously seen prints and posters of that painting and they are you know, huge and well, poster sized! I had figured they were also life sized representations of the painting, and add to that all the hype surrounding that masterpiece, you form an idea of what it would look like in real life and… well she is so tiny! Only 31 in x 21 in. Not even two feet wide, la pauvre petite.
I know I was only a 10 year old kid when I saw her in person, but I remember being so very disappointed and let down. And she was framed behind glass and also under a second glass case, hanging all lonely on the wall. So if you ever go to see her yourself, just be prepared that she is very small.
Indeed the small size of the painting was a very big factor in why Vincent Peruggia chose her. That and the whole wanting to “return an Italian painting back to Italy” thing. He walked out of the Louvre with the Mona Lisa hidden under his maintenance worker’s smock.
Although it seems that her fame got boosted because of the theft, she was already pretty popular before Peruggia nabbed her from the museum.
Simon Kuper from his article says:
“Many romantics responded to the picture as if to a woman. Mona Lisa received love letters and was given a touch more surveillance than the Louvre’s other works, because some visitors stared at the “aphrodisiac” painting and became “visibly emotional”, writes Coignard.” oooook, I know what that means! 0_o
“It’s not that the Mona Lisa is better than other paintings. But they are paintings and she is a person.”
“The Mona Lisa had spent two years on Peruggia’s kitchen table. ‘I fell in love with her,’ he said from jail”.
So there you go. In writing this post I notice that even I speak of her as a person more often than as a painting.
I went to sleep last night, rather agitated and upset. I am having to grapple with the news that I will have to move back east to better facilitate my health care. I tried to calm myself by reading part six of three of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I fell asleep with a documentary of how the Titanic was built playing in the background. How I woke up with the Mona Lisa on my mind is beyond me.
But at least I’m not as upset as I was last night.
And maybe I’ll get to paint a lot at whatever high toned booby hatch I end up in.