culture

12 things you should know about Louvre: The beloved Mona Lisa

She’s loved by millions around the world, but she has had a turbulent history

12:00 November 6, 2017
RDS_171106 Louvre Abu Dhabi 5

Dubai

Millions of visitors from around the world visit the Louvre to see her smile.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa actually has her own mailbox at the Louvre because of all the love letters she receives.


Mona Lisa’s influence on culture is massive, but this oil-on-wood panel painting is just the size of an A2 paper — 77cm by 53cm. And she has been through a lot.

In 1911, she was stolen from the Louvre. Thousands left flowers and notes near the blank wall where she once hung.

The true thief, Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia, was caught in 1913. A staunch Italian nationalist, he wanted to return Mona Lisa to her and Da Vinci’s homeland, Italy, where he felt she truly belonged.

The Mona Lisa has also been attacked.

Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a Bolivian, chucked a rock at the portrait in 1956. Today, if you look closely at the her left elbow, you can notice the slight damage. A few months before this incident, another art attacker pitched acid at the painting.

Since then, she sits in her own climate-controlled room and is encased in bulletproof glass to prevent threat and injury.

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