We live in a culture that concentrates mainly on images. It may be difficult to imagine a time when only the richest people had their likeness captured. The wealthy Florentine merchants of Renaissance could commission portraits. A portrait was more than mere resemblance, it spoke about status and position. Furthermore, portraits generally took a long time to paint, and the subject would commonly have to sit for hours or days, while the artist captured their likeness.
The Mona Lisa was originally this kind of portrait, but over time it has become an icon of the Renaissance, perhaps the most reknown painting in the world. The Mona Lisa is a portrait of the wife of a Florentine merchant. For some reason however, the portrait was never given to its patron, and Leonardo da Vinci kept it with him when he went to work for Francis I, the King of France.
The Mona Lisa, one of the most famous Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpieces, has been the subject of a vandalism attempt. It happened on Sunday, when a 36-year-old man, disguised as an old lady, jumped into the world-famous Louvre museum and threw a cake against the Renaissance-era painting’s protective glass. The man, who was wearing a wig, approached the Mona Lisa in a wheelchair (since visitors with disabilities are allowed to get closer to the paintings), before throwing a piece of cake at the artwork. The Louvre’s staff declared: “While standing near the painting, this individual threw a pastry he had hidden in his personal belongings at the Mona Lisa’s glass case. This act had no effect on the painting, which was not damaged in any way.” However, the most interesting part is that the man revealed that he decided to organize this vandalism act for a fair cause: to protest against artists not focusing enough on “the planet”. In fact, while security was escorting the man away, he said in French: “There are people who are destroying the Earth … All artists, think about the Earth. That’s why I did this. Think of the planet.”.
He then scattered some rose petals on the floor, before he was forced to leave the room. The bizarre incident was captured on several phones and circulated widely on social media, becoming one of the most viral videos of the week. A Twitter user posted a video showing a museum employee wiping a mess off the glass and another showing a man dressed in white being escorted away by security guards. He wrote: “A man dressed as an old lady jumps out of a wheelchair and attempted to smash the bulletproof glass of the Mona Lisa. Then proceeds to smear cake on the glass and throws roses everywhere, all before being tackled by security”. Anyway, the bulletproof glass managed to protect the work, which remained unharmed, but it’s not the first time that the Mona Lisa is the target of attempted vandalism. In 2009, a tourist threw a cup against the glass, while in 1974 somebody tried to ruin the painting, using a red spray.