Saskatchewan NAC

The Lost Mona Lisa

$4.95

The Lost Mona Lisa - Image 1
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The 100-year old mystery of who stole the Mona Lisa

Used - Soft Cover - 263 pages - 2010 - 28.6 x 31.1 x 1.6 cms

Excellent condition. Absolutely like new.

Cover price is £8.99 (UK import)

Review - The Book Bag:  Take one of the most esteemed and popular works of art, La Gioconda, put it randomly and completely insecurely on the walls of the Louvre, guard it with stodgy old soldiers, and leave it to vanish. It probably will, and it did – and in an era, too, when American magnates were prizing classical European works of art, and buying anything, real or forged that they could get their hands on.

Cue a brilliantly told account of the calamity France felt. Heads rolled, as expected, and policemen went into hyperactivity. Was it some lovestruck foreign chap, or a gang of criminal masterminds with the shadowiest links imaginable? Perhaps it was neither – anybody could have been a suspect, and one of the 20th century's most famous men ended up being investigated for it.

The story is sterling, and here throughout this book is all we need and not much more. I did raise both eyebrows at the beginning, as some details Ms Scotti provides seemed far too fictional – descriptions of the stride of people was deemed necessary, before we had any clue what place in the story they might hold. Sweaty hairy chests poke through vests, and you might well wonder on what grounds we're told these things.

But the narrative soon gets more amenable, and with some valuable, concise chapters we learn the entire back story, from the mystery of who Mona Lisa really was and up. It works as art history, where we see the status of the painting grow and grow with its chequered history, leading up to the biggest crowds the Louvre had ever seen as people gazed at the blank space on the wall where it had been. It works as crime history, as a real-life Sherlock Holmes looks into things using those new-fangled fingerprint ideas. It serves as social history as well, as this was one of the first global crime stories for the newspapers, able to reprint the image ad nauseam with new photographic reproduction technology.

It boils down to one of those friendly, engaging non-fiction books, telling a story just as strong and strange as a novel, concerning something we might have heard about but never will have sat down and spent much time learning about. This doesn't take much time to read, and leaves us feeling authoritative about one of the quirks of the last century, and it's obviously worth a strong recommendation.


Images of used items in the NACstore are always photographs of the actual item being offered.

NAC Item Number: UB0227

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