What would it be like to spend your life hanging on a wall? If you are the Mona Lisa, you preen as a constant stream of admirers pass by, the guides describing how famous you are and remembering what it was like to be painted. Who Stole the Mona Lisa is told from the Mona Lisa’s point of view; she enjoys the constant adoration and listening to the guide telling the story of how she was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, admired by kings and given to the Louvre by Napoleon Bonaparte. As much as she enjoys her current fame, she thought posing for her picture was very boring, even falling asleep during a sitting!
Then in 1911, she was taken from the wall of the Louvre. She did not enjoy being stolen! “First I lurched sideways, then upside down. I felt sick. My veil slid over one eye. A honey cake fell from my lap.” Going from thousands of adoring admirers to being hidden under the stove with the cobwebs was not her idea of fun! Even though she was no longer at the Louvre, people still came to view where she had been hanging leaving flowers, letters, poems and songs. “They wanted to see where I WASN’T.” She was that famous. The police searched everywhere.
After two years, the thief decided it was not safe to keep the Mona Lisa in Paris and he returned to Florence where he tried to sell the painting, claiming that the Mona Lisa was an Italian treasure and needed to be returned to Italy. She hung in the Uffuzi Museum in Florence for over two weeks where over 30,000 people came to visit her on the first day. Finally she was returned to Paris by express train and once more placed on the four hooks on the wall where she remains to this day, enjoying her admirers.
If you’re visiting the Louvre with children, the Mona Lisa is of course on your list of paintings to view. Who Stole the Mona Lisa is a great introduction to the history of the painting and the panic that ensued when she was stolen by Vincenzo Perugia in 1911.
If you’d like to add Who Stole Mona Lisa to your child’s library, click here: Who Stole Mona Lisa