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Tens of thousands wait daily at the Louvre to have a moment with Mona Lisa. Every day, thousands of people capture her famous smile and save it to their camera roll.
Summer 2019 However, this endeavour was somewhat more difficult (to put it mildly) when the decision to move Da Vinci’s famous masterpiece into Medici Gallery – marked its first relocation in 14 years.
When will the Mona Lisa return to its original site?
After it was moved from Salle des Etats in the Louvre to its Galerie Medicis, the Mona Lisa became the centre of a media storm. Why? The reason? To facilitate the renovation of the former in preparation for an exhibit in honour of Da Vinci’s death in Oct.
The confusion caused by the Louvre’s July move has been reported in headlines since July. The museum hosts an average of 30,000 visitors per day.
The Mona Lisa will be returning to its original location in mid-October. However, as people jostle for a chance to see the Mona Lisa’s famous smile, they are reminded that her serene expression is a reflection of the drama that has surrounded her over the centuries.
This isn’t the first instance of the painting being moved. This summer’s move brings to mind an interesting ownership dispute that has been raging between two countries for many years.
Continue reading: The 13 Most Important Things to See at The Louvre
Who is the Mona Lisa’s owner?
Legally, the answer is the French government. But what about a metaphorical one? It all depends on who you ask and where they may be standing on the French/Italian border.
It is well-known that the Mona Lisa is a portrait by Lisa Gherardini of an Italian woman. This was requested by Francesco del Giocondo in the Italian Renaissance.
Perhaps less well-known is the fact that Da Vinci was born in Italy and died in France 67 years later. claimed to have gifted the painting to King Francois I. He initially kept the portrait in Versailles, before moving it to the Louvre.
Herein lies the cultural paradox.
Many claims that this proves France’s ownership. The Louvre last year stated that Da Vinci sold the painting to the King. Those who have a connection with Da Vinci argue the Mona Lisa is an undisputed part of Italian history, created by an Italian-Italian for an Italian.
The painting’s global reach may make it seem trivial, but the question of heritage was the driving force behind one of the most notorious art robberies in the 20th century.
The Mona Lisa Heist
Vincenzo Peruggio, an Italian man, stole the portrait in its half-length from the Louvre in August 1911. The former Louvre worker had hidden the painting for two years in his Parisian house. He then returned to Italy with the painting and approached a gallery in Florence.
The hunt for the painting ended after two years of police efforts and a lot of international publicity.
Perugino was brought before the court and claimed that was the motivation for his crime. He then served seven months of a 12-month sentence.
The debate about who owns the painting is still raging 100 years after Peruggio’s “crime of patriotism”.
From courts to cultural campaigns
Although the original dispute was resolved in court, the current manifestation of the conflict is in the form of cultural campaigns and online disputes.
The Telegraph published a 2011 report on Silvano Vinceti, an art historian,’s attempts to get 100,000 signatures in support of the return to Italy of the painting. Vincent Pomarede, the Louvre’s director of collections, dismissed the campaign. He claimed that any attempt to move the painting would result in irreparable damage.
A petition with more than 150,000 signatures was submitted one year later to the Louvre asking them to return the Mona Lisa from Florence. The goal of the petition was to reinstate the painting in Uffizi Gallery. The National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage submitted a formal request to France’s Culture Minister, but it was ultimately rejected.
It hasn’t stopped.
It seems that anything and everything, from the celebrity world to the World Cup can be used as a catalyst to spark discussion about Mona Lisa’s heritage.
In fact, George Clooney was said to have discussed ownership during a promotional tour for The Monuments Men in 2014. reports at the time claim that Clooney encouraged France to return the portrait of his character to Italy. This, according to reports, brought more attention to the friction between the two countries on the subject.
The bone of contention was once again in the news when the Louvre tweeted a photoshopped photo of the Mona Lisa sporting the French football strip after France’s World Cup victory in July 2018.
The move was met with anger by Italian fans who took it upon themselves to take to Twitter to protest the museum. It wasn’t long before other versions of the image circulated online. Irate Italians meticulously repainted the painting to show Mona Lisa’s support for the Italian football team.
The most recent Mona Lisa relocation
Clooney, campaigns and courtrooms aside, the latest dispute has been sparked by the relocation.
A recent article in The Irish Times reminds us that the heritage issue is still very important for many. One Italian visitor said that they had stolen her. She should be in Florence. It is not fair that we must pay for our history.”
A security guard stated that Leonardo had given her to Francois so that she is now French.
Is the Mona Lisa now part of the fabric of French national heritage? Or is she intrinsically linked to Italian culture? Which country has the right to claim her? Which country is her birthplace?
The Mona Lisa will soon be returning to the Salle des Etats. However, many believe that her relocation should be international.
What do you think? Comment below to let us know your thoughts!