Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

Mona Lisa Theft

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Wed, 07 Oct 1998 08:47:15 -0500

Dear Artsnetters,

Especially the person that was looking for the info on the Mona Lisa....

I took some time yesterday to look on the web for a site that related to the history of the painting, and though a very experienced surfer, I came up empty.....frustrated that with all the high-powered technology, the web is mostly filled with ads, commercial sites, and lots of garbage! How different it is now than when I first started surfing 3 or 4 years ago. Back then, as some of you may recall, the sites were fewer, but mostly educational or academic in nature- mostly text and usually of some value.

And NOW? What do you think of your latest websearch? It's easy to find entertainment sites, but how about some academic content? Maybe we need to spend some of our time creating sites filled with useful art data.

Anyway, that's my HO. To go on....

I did find, at home on the bookshelf, a bit about the great theft of the Mona on August 21, 1911. The account is from Living With Art, by Rita Gilbert.

The thief was Vincenzo Perugia, a house painter who had once done some contract work in the Louvre. On the morning of the 21st, Perugia, dressed in a workman's smock, walked into the museum, nodded to several of the other workers, and chose a moment when no one else was in the particular salon to unhook the painting from the wall. Then he slipped into a stairwell, removed the picture from its frame, stuck it under his smock, and walked out.

More than two years passed before the thief surfaced. A man claiming to be "Leonard" contacted an Italian art dealer in Florence, and showed the man the Mona Lisa in the bottom of a wooden box filled with junk. Leonard (Perugia) was arrested.

Perugia claimed he was motivated by patriotism. Mona Lisa was an Italian painting by an Italian artist. Believing (mistakenly) that it had been stolen by Napolean to hang in France, he wanted to restore it to its rightful home. At the same time he expected to be "rewarded" by the Italian gov. for his heroic act and thought $100,000 would be a good amount.

He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a year in prison. After his release, he served in the army, married, settled in Paris, and operated a paint store.

Hope that helps! The book has a nice official "mug shot" of Vincenzo Perugia.



Jim Wittstruck
M.W. Savage Elementary
Savage, MN