How the Mona Lisa became famous

Before August of 1911, the Mona Lisa was a relatively unknown painting. Painted in 1507 it was mostly known to art world insiders.

That changed on the Monday morning three Italian handymen managed to steal the artwork from the Louvre, sparking a public outcry prompted by fear that American millionaires were absorbing valuable pieces of French culture. Crowds flocked to see the empty space where it had once hung. Before the painting’s return, both J.P. Morgan and Pablo Picasso were suspected of arranging the theft.

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Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons