I am a bit confused by this story – not least because, it is not at all clear that the Mona Lisa was ever removed from Italy without permission. As with many such claims, comparisons to the Elgin Marbles fail to see the uniqueness of the Parthenon Sculptures case – in that they were part of a building, as well as part of a greater whole – and therefore specifically designed to be seen in the context of the Athenian Acropolis.
Further to this, the whole argument that these should be returned because they are like the Elgin Marbles fails to note that the Palermo Fragment of the Parthenon Frieze was loaned to Greece with great reluctance by the Italian Museum authorities & had to be returned in March 2010 once the loan term ran out.
At the same time, it appears, at least from the article, that Italy’s National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage has made a formal request to France – it seems odd that such a thing can have happened with relatively little prior news coverage, for such a well known artefact. At the same time though, if a formal request was made, issues are raised of how Italy can manage to raise one so easily, while the Greek Government has not made any sort of official formal request for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures since before the Athens Olympics.
I can see very little chance of France taking this request seriously – unless Italy comes up with a huge amount of more compelling evidence (none of which currently exists, to the best of my knowledge).
We want our masterpiece back – Italians petition France to return Mona Lisa to Florence
Michael Day, Milan
Saturday 08 September 2012
Italian campaigners have collected more than 150,000 signatures calling on the Louvre Museum in Paris to hand over Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to its “home city” of Florence.
The National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage says it has made a formal request to the French Culture Minister, Aurelie Filippetti, for the world’s most famous painting to be returned to the Uffizi Gallery, where was displayed briefly a century ago.
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