Clooney calls for Mona Lisa’s return to Italy

Actor George Clooney has lined up against the French government in an ongoing art row. The Hollywood star has waded into the battle for the Mona Lisa, saying the Louvre Museum in Paris should return it to its native Florence.

Clooney calls for Mona Lisa's return to Italy
George Clooney has called for the Mona Lisa's return to Italy. Photos: Wikimedia Commons

The comments were made during a promotional tour for Clooney’s new film, The Monuments Men, in Milan, according to a report in Hollywood Reporter, and is likely to reignite the spat over the world’s most famous painting between the two nations.

George Clooney is sometimes referred to in Italy as the 'treasure of Laglio', the small town on Lake Como where he owns a villa.

France has fiercely guarded Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, which has been hanging in the Louvre museum in Paris since 1797.

It was bought by France's King Francis I shortly after its completion in the 16th century.

The painting returned to Italy just once since then, and that was only because it was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia, a former employee of the Louvre who reportedly believed the portrait should be in an Italian museum, in 1911.

It wasn’t tracked down until 1913, when it was found in Peruggia’s home in Florence.

Italy has made several failed bids for its return, most recently last year when it sought to borrow the painting as part of an exhibition marking the centenary of its recovery following the theft. More than 150,000 Italians signed a petition to bring the painting to the Uffizi museum.

But France refused, saying that lending the work would present “many technical difficulties”.

READ MORE HERE: France rejects Italian plea to borrow Mona Lisa

Acclaimed as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world", the Mona Lisa is estimated to have been painted between 1503 and 1506.

The portrait is believed to be of Lisa Gheradini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy silk merchant from Florence.

Clooney also caused a stir last week when he called on Britain to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. 

by Angela Giuffrida

A version of this story first appeared on The Local Italy

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New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

IN DETAIL: When do France’s top tourist sites reopen?