Mona Lisa

Mona LisaHer smile is the most famous and profound smile in the world. So mysterious that she has been the cause of literally rivers of spilled ink, in a quest to prove the more risky theories which have tried to identify this famous model. Obviously, we are talking about the acclaimed portrait of the Monna Lisa, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.

There are some that have speculated that it is in fact a sarcastic self-portrait of Da Vinci himself, who have painted the images of many other female personalities. Somebody has even tried to adopt a theory that the painting is in fact an obscure representation. Only a small amount of people know the true meaning. Never has a painting aroused so much speculation and discussion about itself. Another thing which makes the Mona Lisa different from other paintings is the fact that it is the subject of the painting which has sparked much speculation rather than the painter himself.

So who was this woman? According to Vasari, which is an authentic source that gives information about Renaissance artists (which, it has to be said, is not always very reliable) states that the woman in question was called Mona Lisa de’ Gherardini. She was married to a Florentine merchant called Francesco di Bartolomeo at the age of 15; a man who was 20 years her senior. She was in fact the third wife of Francesco and it’s said that this can’t have had any effect on the pleasant disposition of this beautiful woman. So, with this in mind, is it true that, as stated by Vasari, Leornardo had to employ numerous jesters in order to make Mona Lisa present him with at least a hint of that illustrious smile.

Alternatively, it is also possible that this famous figure is in fact that of another lady from this era, a woman named Constanza d’Avalos. Furthermore, another possibility which has come to light is that she could be one of the lovers of the all powerful Giuliano de’ Medici and if this same Mona Lisa had granted the Medici family with her thanks, she would have possibly had the blessing of her husband. In actual fact, this is not such an unfounded hypothesis as it would also allow us to resolve another very strange mystery surrounding this painting, which is the reason why the portrait remained in the hands of its creator, and not those of its buyer: Giuliano obviously could not keep a such a sensual painting of his secret lover nearby whilst he was still married to Filiberta di Savoia.

Yet, at a closer glance, it is evident that the appearance of the beautiful Giaconda is much more Florentine and Tuscan than we could have ever imagined. Hence the reason we know that Leornardo moved her a few paces away from Palazzo Vecchio. However, the mystery remains. The same goes for that of the spacious and open background that was recently identified as that of the highlands of Valdarno with its odd characteristics and the phenomenal bridge that still exists today in the locality of Buriano. There are many places that Leonardo had already painted on other occasions, which must have struck his lively, scientific imagination; so many which would appear in many of his other famous paintings. The Mona Lisa emits charm and grace which is completely Tuscan, which over the centuries has made many admirers fall in love with her.

Amongst those admirers, there are those who have even tried to steal her, including Vicenzo Peruggia a Florentine, who wasn’t actually Florentine but in fact a Lombard who had immigrated to Paris. Peruggia was so amazed by her smile that he attempted to rob her, a task which was previously believed to be impossible. Whereas in films, great robberies are represented using images of secret agents and fearless, debonair thieves, usually resembling the most famous of Hollywood stars, who carry out such bold acts with the help of the most extraordinary, technologically advanced gadgets, this poor, modest painter committed the crime in a way that was in contrast with an incredibly simple and common place.

Perhaps he wanted to take her back to her home city along the River Arno or maybe he was waiting for a public thank you from the Italian authorities for having brought this masterpiece back to its native town. We will never know!

However, what is certain is that one day (21st August, 1911), Peruggia was looking for work, along with many other casual workers in the Louvre. He had only been standing in front of the famous portrait for a minute, when all of a sudden he couldn’t resist the temptation any longer. He took the painting from the wall and put it under his shirt and left, whistling, going straight past the guards. His cold-bloodedness remained also when, some days later, a police inspector went to his house to question him, sitting right next to the Giaconda that Peruggia had just covered with a tablecloth.

Two years went by and the world had already resigned itself to the disappearance of the famous painting. The French police had carefully checked out every known gangster in Paris and they did not know where else to turn. Who would have stolen a piece of work, which was impossible to sell?

However, a few days after Christmas in 1913, an antique dealer from Florence called Alfredo Geri, saw the delivery of a letter signed by “Leonardo” stating that he would authorize the release of the “la Giaconda” on the condition that it would be displayed in the Uffizi Gallery forever, the only gallery that he deemed worthy of hosting it. At first, the antique dealer thought that it must be some kind of joke, however he changed his mind when he saw Peruggia infront of him in the shop, telling him that he was in fact the author of the letter. Alfredo Geri then offered to take the painting from the hotel where the thief was staying, informing the police in the meantime, who went and arrested him straight away.

Peruggia was shocked by these events, as he was expecting them to come and greet him as the hero who had successfully managed to bring this Italian masterpiece back to Florence, where it truly belonged, among the Italian population.

The court of law, where he was put on trial, believed his good intentions and just gave him with a punishment which was, under the circumstances, quite mild: a custodial sentence lasting 1 year and 15 days which was served in the Florentine jails. Therefore refusing the request of the French authorities to have him extradited. When his sentence ended, Peruggia emigrated once again and has never been spoken of since. At least until his death, in 1925, which occurred in Paris where he had had the courage to return, despite the French police.

The Florentine people certainly took his side because they had the possibility to, if only for the few days before it was returned to the Louvre, go and admire the wonderful portrait of the Mona Lisa. Of this, we are certain; she will definitely have smiled with much conviction, enjoying for a short time, after a good 4 years, the open air of her city, just a few steps away from her house.


Commenti (1) | March 30, 2010

One Response to “Mona Lisa”

  1. Banjo Says:
    December 2nd, 2011 at 08:39

    Furrealz? That’s mavrelosuly good to know.


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