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02 Why did a man smear cake over the Mona Lisa?

Why did a man smear cake over the Mona Lisa?

Art

Last Sunday afternoon at the Louvre, the visitors witnessed the weirdest scene: a man threw a cake against the glass case protecting The Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous masterpiece. A complaint has been filed by the museum for an attempt of damaging a cultural property.

 

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci surrounded by a crowd of visitors in July 2020 at the Louvre, Paris. @ Chesnot/Getty Images. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci surrounded by a crowd of visitors in July 2020 at the Louvre, Paris. @ Chesnot/Getty Images.
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci surrounded by a crowd of visitors in July 2020 at the Louvre, Paris. @ Chesnot/Getty Images.

On Sunday, May 29th, inside the walls of the sumptuous Salle des États, the Louvre’s largest room, a man dressed as an old lady jumped out of his wheelchair to smear cake across the glass case protecting the famous Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece made between 1503 and 1519. While some might have thought it was a scene taken from a bad movie, the incident actually took place around 1:30 pm and was shared on social media. Despite the lack of visual evidence, an internaut asserted that a 36-year-old man wearing a wig “threw rose petals everywhere around him before being handled by security guards”. Handed over to the police, and then to a psychiatrist to check if his mental state would allow him to be held in custody, the responsible party used his willingness to raise awareness about the environmental crisis to justify his act: “Think of the planet. There are people destroying the earth. Think about that. Artists are telling you to think of the planet. That’s why I did it. Think of the planet”.

 

When asked about the incident by the French news agency AFP last Sunday evening, the Louvre declared that no further comments would be made. An investigation has been opened for the attempt of damaging a cultural property. While this scene offered an odd show for those present at the Louvre, it is not the first time that this kind of incident happens at the renowned museum, which attracted over 2.8 million visitors last year. In 1956, a Bolivian man threw a rock at The Mona Lisa, damaging the left elbow of the painting. In the wake of that event, the canvas had been placed in a showcase, before being installed behind an armored glass in a chamber with combined humidity and temperature control in 2005. However, these protective measures didn’t prevent another attack during the summer 2009, when a Russian woman threw a cup of tea at the masterpiece… Is Mona Lisa’s famous gaze an invitation to an afternoon tea?

 

The secret behind her mysterious aura is the core of the exhibit The Monna Lisa, An Immersive Exhibition at the Palais de la Bourse in Marseille until August 21st, 2022. This digital journey invites the visitor to discover what is behind the myth of the famous portrait thanks to stories and sensory experiences. The visitor can walk around and interreact with a virtual landscape inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works, such as the Virgin of the Rocks (1483-1486), The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (1503-1519), and of course The Mona Lisa.

 

The Monna Lisa, An Immersive Exhibition at the Palais de la Bourse in Marseille until August 21st, 2022.