Scientists Believe they have Found the Remains of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
Scientists believe that they have found the remains of the woman who inspired Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting, the Mona Lisa. Researchers believe the woman depicted in the painting is Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo and that remains found in a tomb in a convent last year could be her. They have now exhumed her sons, who were buried in a different tomb, in attempt to determine if it is really her through DNA matching.
The tomb of Del Giocondo’s sons located in the Martyrs’ Crypt in Santissima Annunziata basilica has just been opened up for the first time in centuries in order to identify the bones of the woman who is believed to have been the model in da Vinci’s Mona Lisa portrait. The family tomb had an inscribed stone indicating that they belonged to the family of Lisa Gherardini’s husband and sons.
“Right now we are carrying out carbon-14 tests on three of the eight skeletons found in St Ursula, which could be the age Lisa Gherardini was when she died”, said Silvano Vinceti, Head of Italy’s National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage. “The carbon-14 test will tell us which of the three dates back to the 1500s. Only then will we know which skeleton to do the final DNA test on.”
Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo, was a silk merchant’s wife who lived across the street from da Vinci. It is believed Lisa's husband Francesco Del Giocondo commissioned the portrait to celebrate either Lisa's pregnancy or the purchase of a house around 1502 and 1503.
If the team think they have a positive match, Vinceti plans to commission a virtual reconstruction of Lisa Gherardini's face, based on the bone structure, and compare it to Leonardo's painting. “If we succeed, we can finally resolve three questions which have obsessed historians and art-lovers worldwide,” Vinceti said. “Was Gherardini the model for the Mona Lisa? Or was it some other model, as some people say? Or is it just a construction of the painter's fantasy?”
While the prospect of finding the real person behind da Vinci’s 16 th century masterpiece is exciting, the ethics relating to exhuming a family and conducting analyses on their remains is questionable.
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa now hangs in the Louvre art gallery in Paris.