Musee Du Louvre, Paris – Why is the Mona Lisa Hanging There?
Why does the Musee Du Louvre, Paris, house the most famous painting in the world when it was painted in Italy by an Italian artist?
There is nothing uncommon about works of art being shifted around the world and the Louvre contains a goodly selection of other Italian paintings – by Mantegna, Bellini, Caravaggio and Titian.
There is no doubt as to the Italian origins of this masterpiece. Painted in Florence by the Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci, it is sometimes also known by its Italian name “La Gioconda”. It is thought to be a painting of Lisa del Giocondo, a member of the Gherardini family who married Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine silk merchant. So there is not much mystery as to the origins of the names “La Gioconda” or the “Lisa” part of the painting’s name. As to the “Mona” part, this is doubtless a corruption of the Italian “Ma Donna”, meaning “My Lady”.
however, in the eyes of many, there is a mysterious and non-specific air to the painting. The most well-known adjective used to describe the painting is “enigmatic”. The background to the painting is not particularly applicable to Italy, it consisting of a fictitious scenery with mountains in the background. Where are there signs of Italian civilisation? There is but a small bridge and some winding paths to behold.
The Mona Lisa is located in the Musee Du Louvre mostly because Leonardo took the painting to France with him in 1516 and it eventual wound up in the Louvre after the French dramatical change.
A hundred years ago, in August 1911 to be precise, the Mona Lisa was unprotected to an unsuccessful episode of repatriation when it was stolen by Louvre worker Vincenzo Peruggia. The burglar hid in a broom cupboard till closing time and walked out with the painting under his coat. His motive? Rather like a devotee of the Elgin marbles arguing that they should be returned to Greece, he believed the painting should be returned to its country of origin. Peruggia blew his cover two years later by trying to sell it on to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. After being exhibited all over Italy, the Mona Lisa was returned to the Louvre in 1913, and is nevertheless owned by the French Government. Peruggia got off lightly with a six month jail term.