La Giaconde (The Mona Lisa): Background information when reading Stealing Mona Lisa

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Stealing Mona Lisa

A Mystery

by Carson Morton

Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2011, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2012, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
La Giaconde (The Mona Lisa)

Print Review

An early 16th century oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, The Mona Lisa is believed to have been created between 1503-1507 in Florence (though it is rumored that da Vinci did not actually complete it until 1519, just before his death in France). The painting is probably inspired by Lisa Gherardini, the wife of an Italian merchant. In 2005, a scholar at the University of Heidelberg, Dr. Armin Schlechter, discovered a manuscript containing a marginal note written by a Florentine chancellery official, Agostino Vespucci, which mentions Lisa - helping to confirm the subject's identity as well as the dates of the work.

The Mona Lisa Portraiture had existed prior to da Vinci's famous painting, but The Mona Lisa stands out for its masterful sense of composition and balance, the intimacy of the subject, and the handling of figure, depth, and foreground. The sfumato technique (from the Latin fumare, "to smoke"), in which edges are softened by blending color in miniscule brush strokes, also helped render the smile that has intrigued viewers for centuries. X-ray examinations have shown that da Vinci also used numerous thin layers of glaze to achieve the effect.

Stealing Mona Lisa fictionalizes details from the painting's theft on August 21, 1911 from the Musée du Louvre, yet remains faithful to the basic realities. When the painting was discovered missing, it was at first thought to have been temporarily removed for photographing (and therefore not reported stolen). Artist Pablo Picasso was also suspected of involvement, though no connection was ever substantiated.

The real culprit, Vincenzo Peruggia, claimed his intention was to restore the painting to its country of origin, Italy, and he served a six month jail sentence before being released for the crime.

The great publicity surrounding the painting's theft helped make it one of the most famous works of art in the world. As author R.A. Scotti writes in the book Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa, "Mona Lisa left the Louvre a work of art... She returned an icon."

For more information about The Mona Lisa check out the official website of the Musée du Louvre.

Article by Karen Rigby

This article was originally published in September 2011, and has been updated for the October 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...
  • Book Jacket: Piecing Me Together
    Piecing Me Together
    by Renee Watson
    Race and class in American culture certainly dominate the news right now. These two things seem to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -