Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Mona Lisa Returned to the Louvre

January 4, 1914 the Mona Lisa returned to the Louvre. The masterpiece had been stolen two years earlier from the museum by an Italian handyman, Vincenzo Perrugia.  As a worker he had access to the galleries.  He hid in the museum until it closed for the night then removed the painting from its frame.  The next day he calmly walked out of the museum with the painting hidden under his working smock.  Peruggia kept the painting  in the closet of his Paris apartment while the police was searching in vain.  The French public was incensed-- how could a priceless treasure disappear from the Louvre?.
Two prominent artists of the time were prime suspects-- the poet Guillaume Appollinaire and Picasso- for the police thought it might have been the work of  the "Modernists" and "avant-guardists", enemies of the traditional art.

Perrugia later claimed that he wanted to return the painting to Italy for he believed erroneously the Mona Lisa had been taken to France by Napoleon's forces.  In fact, La Joconde was purchased by King Francois I directly from the master himself- Leonardo da Vinci in the mid sixteen century. 

Mona Lisa returns to the Louvre
Perrugia was arrested when trying to sell it to an art dealer in Florence. Before its return to France,  the painting was hung  at the Uffizi gallery where jubilant crowds came to view it and considered Perrugia an Italian hero.  The masterpiece returned to the Louvreand Perrugia was found guilty and  sentenced to  8 months in jail but interestingly a few days after the trial, WWI broke out and the story was kicked off the front pages of the newspapers to make place to the tragic unfolding war events. After his release from jail, Perrugia went to war, fighting for Italy. He was captured by the Germans and held as war prisoner for two years. After the war, he returned to live in Paris with a young wife and often times visited the Louvre. 

Planning a trip to France visit

Tags: Louvre, Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa theft

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