Sunday, August 21, 2011


It is 100 years today since Vincenzo Peruggia [1881 - 1925] stole the Mona Lisa or Gioconda from the Louvre and I have told his story here.  The painting was recovered two years later and Peruggia's defence was that he had acted out of patriotism, believing that the painting belonged in Italy.  He served only a minimal prison sentence and later went back to France where appropriately, perhaps, he opened a paint store.

Yesterday his birthplace of Dumenza [Varese, Lombardy]  honoured him by staging a play called Il Processo a Vincenzo Peruggia  [The Trial of Vincenzo Peruggia] by Giovanni Epis as part of its summer festival.  The play's director, Simone Toffanin, believes that Peruggia was a patriot but the Mayor of Dumenza has his doubts and says he does not want the town to be famous only as the birthplace of the man who stole the Mona Lisa.

What do you think?  Was Peruggia a patriot or a purloiner?


Patricia said...

Well, I don't know that applaud his methods, but I do believe that works of art belong to the country of origin...part of their cultural history. That said, I am most appreciative when countries are willing to loan their works of art in special exhibits so they can be appreciated by the global community. The Getty Museum in LA has returned many works to Italy and we have been fortunate to view many special exhibits on loan to us. Una bella cosa!

jams o donnell said...

A deluded fool perhaps. No way it would have been displayed in Italy after a theft.

That said I'm glad he was treated leniently

Ellee Seymour said...

I was surprised how tiny it was when I saw it at the Louvre. There was a huge queue of Japanese tourists waiting to take a photo. It was cordoned off so tourists couldn't get too close. She certainly does have an enigmatic gaze

Whispering Walls said...

He enjoyed her for 3 years in his flat, having built a special case for her in advance. Good for him!

Claude said...

For me, it depends a lot on how the art work was acquired in the first place.

When it's bought or exchanged honestly, it should stay where it has been acquired. When it's taken from a country as war lootings, I consider it stolen. It should be returned, even after 2-3 hundred years.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Patricia. I agree with you. Yes, under an agreement between our two governments the Getty has returned many artworks to Sicily. Hi, jams. Yes, a bit naive. Hi, Ellee. Yes, me too, the first time I saw it. That gaze is inimitable, as you say. Hi, WW. at least he had that. I agree, Claude.


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