Mona Lisa Attack

The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci
The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci (source)

One of the most famous artworks in the world, the Mona Lisa, was recently attacked. Housed in the Louvre in Paris, the painting of a barely smiling woman draws thousands of visitors per day. One of those visitors, a man posing as an old woman in a wheelchair, got close to the painting, stood up, and tried to rub a cake into it.

It is not the first time that the painting has been attacked. Over the years, acid, a rock, red paint, and a coffee cup have all been thrown at the piece of art. However, since 1956, none of the attacks have damaged the picture, thanks to protective bulletproof glass.

Why is the enigmatic portrait by Leonardo da Vinci such a popular target? The fame that brings in visitors also makes the painting a tempting target for protest. People know that they can get attention by attacking such a well-known work of art.

In this recent case of attempted vandalism, based on his post-attack comments, the attacker seemed to be protesting environmental damage to our planet. He was taken away by police for psychiatric evaluation.


For source links, see the article on

Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • House (v) - to keep
  • Draw (v) - to attract, to pull in
  • Pose as (phr. v) - to pretend to be
  • Enigmatic (adj) - mysterious, hard to understand
  • Portrait (n) - a painting or drawing of a person
  • Tempting (adj) - something that people want to have or do
  • Attempted (adj) - something somebody tried to do without success
  • Vandalism (n) - damaging other people’s property
  • Psychiatric (adj) - relating to mental health
  • Evaluation (n) - judging something


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. How easy is it for you to smile for a photograph? What is your smile like?
  2. Have you been to Paris? If so, what did you see and do there? If not, are you interested in going to Paris? For what?
  3. Do you like the Mona Lisa? Why is it or is it not a good painting, in your opinion?
  4. Why else is Leonardo da Vinci famous?
  5. Do you like to go to galleries and museums? Why or why not?
  6. Have you tried painting? Was it enjoyable? How skillful are you?
  7. Is there a lot of vandalism in your city or town? Why do people damage other people’s property?
  8. What are the pros and cons of this form of protest?
  9. What issues should people be protesting about these days?
  10. What could be thrown at the Mona Lisa that has not already been thrown?