FLORENCE, ITALY – Pressure is building for the return of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous portrait, the Mona Lisa, to the city of Florence from the Louvre Museum in Paris. A campaign launched by the National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage together with the Province of Florence has garnered 150,000 signatories petitioning for the return of the painting in 2013.
The return would be of “high historical value, both symbolic and moral,” Committee President Silvano Vincenti said. “The committee has officially submitted a request for a meeting with the new French minister of culture, Aurélie Filippetti. I am convinced that, thanks to the minister’s Italian origins, she will not only respond positively to our request, she will understand its motives,” said Vincenti.
The painting depicts the figure of a woman with an enigmatic facial expression, seated before a visionary landscape, and is seen by millions of visitors every year. The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by robbers dressed as Louvre janitors. It was recovered two years later inside Italian waiter Vincenzo Peruggia’s hotel room in Florence.
The painting was exhibited briefly in the Uffizi and in Rome before it was returned to the Louvre. The committee spearheading the return campaign is also behind the search team that believes they may have found a skeleton belonging to the model, Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo (1469-1542), known as the Mona Lisa. The painting in Italian is called ‘La Gioconda’ after the subject of the portrait. (Ansa)