Mona the Magnificent

A few days ago I tweeted an article from the Daily Mail that I thought my followers would find interesting. Sure enough it prompted a lot of responses and retweets. It seems that a campaign is afoot to bring the Mona Lisa back “home” to Italy, specifically the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. I reacted to the story with amusement, mainly because I can’t imagine the Louvre would ever in a million years hand over its most prized and popular possession. The Italians can gather as many signatures as they want (150,000 so far) but they must know that they’re dealing with the French government which rightfully owns the painting. According to art historians Leonardo da Vinci began working on the painting in Florence but left it unfinished for years. He then brought the painting with him when he moved to France in 1516 and continued working on it. After Leonardo’s death, the Mona Lisa was acquired by the French Royal family. My guess is that Mona is staying put.

The Mona Lisa  has also endured more than her share of theft and vandalism over the years. During the famous theft of the painting in 1911, one of those wrongfully accused of stealing Mona was Pablo Picasso. I have to confess I get a kick out of that 😆 But the guilty culprit turned out to be a Louvre employee named Vincenzo Peruggia whose alleged motivation for the crime was that he believed the painting belonged back in her “homeland” of Italy. Though he served six months in jail, Peruggia was still hailed as a true Italian patriot for his actions. The ghost of Peruggia is probably applauding today’s renewed efforts to bring Mona back. His “cause” refuses to die!

Hasn’t the Mona Lisa been through enough? This whole thing reminds of that crazy kid who posted the YouTube video abut Britney Spears. I say “Leave Mona Alone!!!!”

Even though I don’t think Mona is going anywhere, this story does open up a can of worms in the field of art provenance. Should every country start demanding its works back from museums in other countries? Should the United States reclaim all its Whistlers, Hoppers, and Pollocks? Should Spain demand every single Picasso from every museum around the world? Should the Netherlands retrieve all the Rembrandts and Van Goghs? When does it end?

Since I missed Music Monday two days ago (believe it or not I was still under the weather with my stomach ailment), let’s have one now, a Music Wednesday if you will. Take it away Nat King Cole!

11 thoughts on “Mona the Magnificent

  1. Dan Hawkins says:

    I don’t know of any voice more soothing that Nat King Cole’s. I used to have a couple of CDs of his, and I loved listening to him sing “Stardust.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzPLQpLAxc4

    • artmodel says:

      Dan,

      “Stardust” is one of my favorites of the American popular songs. The lyrics are wonderful. And Nat Cole singing it, well, it doesn’t get any better. Thanks so much for sharing!

      Claudia

  2. I agree with Dan about Nat King Cole!

    Have you seen the Mona Lisa copy from the Prado that was apparently painted by a student standing alongside the master and copying stroke by stroke? It shows details and colors that have been obscured on the original under darkened varnish. Interesting to compare, especially in the enlargeable illustrations here: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/14881

    • artmodel says:

      Great article Fred, thanks! I didn’t know, and it was great to learn, that a master such as Leonardo had his students paint alongside him. What a tremendous learning experience that must have been for his pupils. I know art teachers today – lesser talents than Leonardo of course – who don’t conduct their classes in that way.

      Claudia

  3. derek says:

    I always love that painting of the mona lisa by Da Vinci he was a true genius in his time. Its hard to believe its been more than 500 years since his death and we still talk about this masterpiece.
    Nat King Cole sung it well can you believe he was 46 when he died in 1965 what a smooth voice and greatly missed. I remember hearing him when I was a child.

    You are one true scholar of the arts and I always enjoyed reading your history of the arts . and you have god given talent of sharing your brain of knowledge of history, and I will also say that you also have a god given gift to share this beautiful precious figure that you shared in artists and inspiring them as a muse. Keep up the good work luv.

    • artmodel says:

      Derek,

      You are so generous! I am humbled by your words of praise. I’m not a scholar, but I do love to share and convey thoughts, information, and perceptions as best I can. However, I do my best work up on the model stand.

      It’s wonderful to hear from you, as always. And thank you 🙂

      Claudia

  4. Bill says:

    I agree — I’ll be able to sing like Nat King Cole before the Italians get the Mona Lisa. (That should be a while 🙂
    Actually, I could envision a movie based on an Italian commando raid to retrieve it. Maybe starring Danny DeVito — what do you think?
    All kidding aside, I wonder whether they’re thinking of the Greeks’ attempt to get the Elgin marbles back from the Brits. But the Greeks would seem to have a reasonable claim, while the newspaper article doesn’t really offer a solid argument for the Mona Lisa’s return.

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      I actually think that’s a great movie idea! Not sure about the Danny DeVito casting though 😆

      And I agree that there’s not much of a compelling case for bringing the Mona Lisa to Italy. Can’t see the French just handing it over.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  5. The Italians demanding that the French turn over Mona Lisa is about as logical as demanding that political boundaries be redrawn to some random date centuries ago. Maybe Italy should demand the Roman Empire back as well. Get over it.

  6. In “Demian” by Herman Hesse the narrator Sinclair takes up painting in order to realise a portrait of his ‘Beatrice’. After painting scores of versions he finds that the definitive version no longer looks like Beatrice but his mentor Demian, but then on another occasion he realises that it is also he himself. I mention this because the Gioconda bears a striking resemblance to Leonardo himself ……..who in turn resembles the face on the Turin shroud.

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