In case you’re curious about the identity of the woman with that enigmatic smile, an Italian art historian says he’s about to find out. From the Guardian:
A self-styled Italian art history sleuth says he has taken an important step towards identifying the remains of the woman thought to be the model for the Mona Lisa.
Silvano Vinceti and his researchers entered the martyrs’ crypt in Florence’s Santissima Annunziata basilica, 300 years after it was last opened, in pursuit of a two-and-a-half-year mission to identify the remains of Lisa Gherardini.
Last year the team recovered eight skeletons from the Sant’Orsola convent in Florence, thought to be the resting place of Gherardini, who was the wife of a Renaissance-era silk merchant and is traditionally considered the model for Leonardo Da Vinci‘s portrait.
Three of those skeletons are now undergoing carbon dating tests at the University of Bologna to establish if they date from the 1500s, when Leonardo is thought to have worked on his most celebrated painting. But, even if they find a time-period match, it will hardly signify definitive proof – which is why Vinceti considers the opening of the martyrs’ crypt to be fundamental. It contains the family tomb of her husband, Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo, which in turn contains the remains, among others, of her son.
If further testing reveals a DNA link between the remains in the martyrs’ crypt and one of the skeletons discovered at the convent of Sant’Orsola, Vinceti says the project could then move into its “most exciting” phase – the reconstruction of the woman’s face.
Begun in April 2011, the quest for Gherardini is far from Vinceti’s first foray into the lost mysteries of Italy‘s artistic greats. In the country’s art history circles, his name is almost as well known – infamous, even – as that of la gioconda herself…
[continues at the Guardian]
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