Groundswell support is growing for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to be exhibited in Florence a century after it was stolen from the Louvre by an Italian employee and exhibited at the Uffizi Gallery.
An Italian petition signed by more than 150,000 people calling on the Louvre to ‘return’ the painting to Florence is in circulation, and the National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage says it has made a formal request to French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti.
The return of the Mona Lisa to Florence would be of “high historical value, both symbolic and moral,” says committee president Silvano Vincenti. The artwork is believed to have been begun in Italy before Leonardo da Vinci sold it to the French king Francis I in the early sixteenth century.
The Province of Florence is currently in negotiations with the French authorities to discuss the possibility of hosting the artwork at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, which is equipped with the required security for an exhibition of such international importance.
In 1911 disgruntled Louvre employee Vincenzo Perugia walked out of the Louvre carrying the Mona Lisa with the intention of ‘repatriating’ it back to Italy. The theft remained unsolved for two years until Perugia confessed his crime and handed the priceless artwork over, with the stipulation that it remained in Italy. The Mona Lisa was exhibited at the Uffizi and taken on a celebrated tour of Italy before being handed back to the Louvre in December 1913.