Mona Lisa banner map

1452 Leonardo is born in Vinci, a small village in Italy.
1466 Leonardo moves to Florence and enters the shop of Andrea Verrocchio.
1472 Leonardo joins the Florentine Guild of Artists.
1481 Leonardo paints The Adoration of the Magi, an altarpiece for the Monastery of San Donato at Scopeto, which is to remain unfinished.
1482 Leonardo travels to Milan and enters the service of Ludovico Sforza, ruler of the city, presenting himself as engineer, architect, sculptor and painter.
1483 Leonardo paints the Louvre version of Virgin of the Rocks.
1485 Leonardo paints Lady with an Ermine.
1495 Leonardo begins work on The Last Supper at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, which is finished two years later.
1500 Leonardo begins painting the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, which is finished ten years later.
1502 Leonardo is appointed military engineer for Cesare Borgia and placed in charge of inspecting Borgia's fortresses in Romagna.
1503 Leonardo begins painting the Mona Lisa, which he will work on for four years (according to Leonardo da Vinci's biographer, Giorgio Vasari.)
1504 Raphael arrives in Florence and visits Leonardo's studio.
1507 Leonardo is appointed painter and engineer at the court of Louis XII in France.
1506 Leonardo paints the London National Gallery version of Virgin of the Rocks.
1513 Leonardo settles in Rome under the patronage of Giuliano de Medici.
1514 Leonardo accepts the patronage of Francois I of France and moves into the manor house of Cloux near Amboise. He paints the only known authentic likeness of himself, inscribed by a later hand: "Leonardo da Vinci, portrait of himself as an old man."
1515 Leonardo paints St. John the Baptist.
Leonardo dies at the age of sixty-seven at the manor of Cloux near Amboise.
1530s Francois I displays the Mona Lisa in a semi-public art gallery at Fontainebleau, his favorite chateau.
1550 Giorgio Vasari publishes the earliest known biography of Leonardo da Vinci, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, thirty-one years after Leonardo's death.
1793 The Louvre Museum opens.
The Mona Lisa is hung in Napoleon Bonapart's bedroom in the Tuileries.
The Mona Lisa is installed in the Grand Gallery of the Louvre.
Vincenzo Perugia is born in Dumenza, a locality in northern Italy near Lake Como.
1908 Perugia moves to a rooming house at 5 rue de l'Hopital-Saint-Louis in Paris. He works briefly as a carpenter at the Louvre.
The Director of the National Museums, Théophile Homolle, on vacation when the Mona Lisa disappears, laughs at the possibility of theft from the Louvre: "You might as well pretend that one could steal the towers of Notre Dame!"
1911 August 21: The theft of Mona Lisa is discovered.

August 29: Géry Piéret delivers a statue stolen from the Louvre to the offices of the Paris-Journal.

September 6: Paris-Journal prints the story that it has received the other two stolen statues.

September 7: French detectives make their first and only arrest in the case – Guillaume Apollinaire. Apollinaire implicates Pablo Picasso. Picasso is brought in for questioning and released.

September 12: Apollinaire is released.

September 13: Paris-Journal reports that Apollinaire was described by La Sureté as "the chief of an international gang that has come to France to rifle our museums."

September: Following a report to the French Cabinet, Homolle is forced to resign as museum director.
1912 Spring: The still-missing painting is honored in a traditional mid-Lent parade in Paris with a float showing Mona Lisa taking off in an airplane for points unknown.
1913 Autumn: Florentine antique dealer, Alfredo Geri, prepares an exhibition and places an advertisement in several Italian newspapers stating that he is "a buyer at good prices of art objects of every sort."

November 29: Geri receives a letter with a Paris postmark in response to his ad, from a man calling himself "Leonardo Vincenzo," who says he has the Mona Lisa in his possession and wishes to restore the painting to Italy.

December 10: Vincenzo Perugia (a.k.a. Leonardo Vincenzo) arrives at Geri's shop on the Via Borgognissanti in Florence.

December 11: Geri and Giovanni Poggi, director of the Uffizi, meet Perugia in his room at the Hotel Tripoli-Italia. Perugia opens a trunk and removes the Mona Lisa, which had been hidden under a false bottom. Perugia is immediately arrested.

December: Mona Lisa is displayed at the Uffizi, then is sent on a tour of the museums of Italy before being sent back to France.

December 31: Mona Lisa returns to Paris in a special compartment of the Milan-Paris express.
1914 January 4: Mona Lisa is returned to her new place in the Louvre's Salon Carré.

June: Perugia is placed on trial in Florence, where he gains popularity as a patriot for returning Mona Lisa to Italy. He is given a minimum sentence and released almost immediately for time served.
1963 Mona Lisa visits the United States for seven weeks – first at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and then at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is seen by one million six-hundred-thousand visitors.
1974 Mona Lisa travels to the Tokyo National Museum and then to the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, where she is seen by more than 2 million viewers.

Mona missing | the crime | the suspects | Mona's identity
Leonardo's technique | myth of Mona Lisa | Mona's return | timeline

Mona Lisa
detail from Guernica
Lilies of the Valley Faberge Egg
Hope Diamond
Taj Mahal
scene from Borobudur

Treasures Homepage
| The Series | Education | Home Video | Soundtrack
Crossword Puzzle | Producers' Notebook | Site Map