Friday, July 29, 2011

THE RETURN OF THE GIOCONDA


A campaign to bring the Gioconda or Mona Lisa back to Italy was launched today in Florence with the first of a series of petitions. Other cities in Italy are also participating and it is hoped to bring the lady back to Florence for an exhibition in 2013, one hundred years after she was rescued following her "abduction" from the Louvre:

On 21st August 1911, it was discovered that the painting was missing from the room in the Louvre where it had been on display for five years.  Both the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso came under suspicion but in 1913 Vincenzo Peruggia, a Varese man who had emigrated to France and who was a Louvre employee,  tried to sell the painting to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  It turned out that he had smuggled the painting out of the Louvre under his coat and had been hiding it for two years.  His impatience was his downfall.

Peruggia apparently believed that the painting should be returned to Italy but this may not have been his only motive!  The Italians, at least, thought he was a bit of a hero and he only served a short prison sentence. Later he returned to France and opened a paint store.

After the painting had been exhibited all over Italy it was returned to the Louvre but now campaigners, supported by the Province of Florence, believe it should be displayed for a while in the city where Leonardo da Vinci trained as a painter. Councillors are considering opening a Leonardo museum in the former Convent of Sant'Orsola, where the painter's muse, Lisa Gherardini, may be buried. She is always known in Italy as La Gioconda and in France as La Joconde because her husband was Francesco del Giocondo - a fortunate surname because giocare in Italian means "to play" and Italians have enjoyed the pun on the "playing smile" for 500 years.

The organisers of the petition hope to collect 100,000 signatures in six months and then present the petition to the French and Italian Ministers of Culture and to the Louvre Museum.  The Italian media has not yet reported French reactions to the idea but I can tell you that the initial response from the Louvre is "Non"!

8 comments:

Gledwood said...

I've heard there are 6 Mona Lisas and that the one in the Louvre may NOT be the original..!

Josep said...

Where can I put my signature? I want it back to Italy! Besides, they're not asking much: they only say that they want it for one exhibition. The Louvre should be aware we all are looking at them and are not pleased at all with their "Non".

CherryPie said...

It will be interesting to see what happens...

Rachel Cotterill said...

I didn't know this piece of history! Thanks for teaching me something :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You never know, Gleds. Hi, Josep. I'll find out where the online petition is. I'm with you but at the Louvre they are saying it is too fragile for the journey - there has to be a solution to that these days! It will, Cherie. I am honoured to have done so, Rachel.

Bev said...

Very, very interesting. I especially liked the play on words part. This entry makes me think of another painting that I've put off seeing that is almost right at my door. The Last Supper in Milan...I need to make that appointment to have a look at it. Did you go to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Bev. I think it's always the same when these wonders are near us - we think, "Oh, I can always do it another time". I saw more of London after I moved away from there than I did when I lived there! Yes, I've seen her at the Louvre.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I would love to see the Mona Lisa in Italy, although I am sure it will be a tough battle to get the Louvre to release it. It is one of the main attractions for tourists to see there!

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