Paris Of course the other reason I wanted to visit Paris was because I had a date with a girl with an enigmatic smile. Too bad there were so many other people there for the occasion. The most famous painting in the world attracts crowds which means anyone with a vested interest, in other words those who want to marvel at the artistry not to just be able to say they’ve seen the Mona Lisa are out of luck.

The canvas is in a glass cabinet within a large gray wall with a tall elbow height barrier around it. Surrounding this are upwards of a hundred and fifty people. Forty of these are taking photographs. With the flashes on their cameras switched on. Apart from the fact that this is a pointless exercise because being the most famous picture in the world, you can buy postcards anywhere, what are they expecting to see in the snapshot? Probably what they’re getting, with is their loved one standing in front of a sort of orangy-yellow gray thing with a mad white Tinkerbell on their shoulder. Give me some time and I could knock that together for them on Photoshop without actually damaging the one that they’ve come to see. I can’t believe how relaxed The Louvre are about these things. Try and use a flash camera at the Tate and you’d be manhandled to the ground and escorted from the premises.

I do have a theory though. I think the Lisa I saw on display that day is a very good copy. I think on some days the security watch out for real art lovers. When they spot one, they’re asked to follow and are led behind the wall, were the real Mona Lisa is kept so that they can gaze at its real glory. There wasn’t anything glorious in what I saw that day. In some way Paris should take more care of its assets. [see also Mona Lisa Mania]

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