Leonardo’s Mona Lisa was Lisa Gherardini

Mona Lisa

Reuters reports:

German experts crack Mona Lisa smile

By Sylvia Westall

Mon Jan 14, 11:33 AM ET

BERLIN – German academics believe they have solved the centuries-old mystery behind the identity of the “Mona Lisa” in Leonardo da Vinci‘s famous portrait.

Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, has long been seen as the most likely model for the sixteenth-century painting.

But art historians have often wondered whether the smiling woman may actually have been da Vinci‘s lover, his mother or the artist himself.

Now experts at the Heidelberg University library say dated notes scribbled in the margins of a book by its owner in October 1503 confirm once and for all that Lisa del Giocondo was indeed the model for one of the most famous portraits in the world.

“All doubts about the identity of the Mona Lisa have been eliminated by a discovery by Dr. Armin Schlechter,” a manuscript expert, the library said in a statement on Monday.

Until then, only “scant evidence” from sixteenth-century documents had been available. “This left lots of room for interpretation and there were many different identities put forward,” the library said.

The notes were made by a Florentine city official Agostino Vespucci, an acquaintance of the artist, in a collection of letters by the Roman orator Cicero.

The comments compare Leonardo to the ancient Greek artist Apelles and say he was working on three paintings at the time, one of them a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo.

Art experts, who have already dated the painting to this time, say the Heidelberg discovery is a breakthrough and the earliest mention linking the merchant’s wife to the portrait.

“There is no reason for any lingering doubts that this is another woman,” Leipzig University art historian Frank Zoellner told German radio. “One could even say that books written about all this in the past few years were unnecessary, had we known.”

The woman was first linked to the painting in around 1550 by Italian official Giorgio Vasari, the library said, but added there had been doubts about Vasari’s reliability and had made the comments five decades after the portrait had been painted.

The Heidelberg notes were actually discovered over two years ago in the library by Schlechter, a spokeswoman said.

Although the findings had been printed in the library’s public catalogue they had not been widely publicized and had been received little attention until a German broadcaster decided to do some recording at the library, she said.

The painting, which hangs in the Louvre in Paris, is also known as “La Gioconda” meaning the happy or joyful woman in Italian, a title which also suggests the woman’s married name.

(Editing by Giles Elgood)

See also here.

(PhysOrg.com) — Italian scientists hope to dig up the remains of Leonardo da Vinci in order to determine if his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, is a disguised self-portrait: here.

Mona Lisa’s eyes may reveal model’s identity, expert claims: here.

Another Mona Lisa theory: here.

Mona Lisa could have been completed a decade later than thought. A drawing of rocks by Leonardo in the Royal Collection provides evidence that the artist worked on the portrait for much longer than the dates officially given by the Louvre: here.

Leonardo’s Last Supper: here. And here.

Leonardo’s Last Supper As It First Appeared? Here.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Studies on the Science of Flight Come to the Air and Space Museum: here.


16 thoughts on “Leonardo’s Mona Lisa was Lisa Gherardini

  1. Painting by Leonardo da Vinci discovered

    Source: Medieval News (10-13-09)

    In one of the most amazing recent examples of intuition, detective work, technical innovation and connoisseurship, a new addition to the very limited corpus of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci has now come to light.

    The painting, actually a mixed-media of white, red and black chalks with additions of watercolour, and executed on vellum, was discovered in a private Swiss collection. Originally purchased in a New York auction ten years ago, the painting was catalogued as ‘German early 19th century’, and sold for $20 000.

    A mitigating factor for the experts of the auction house is that the work was somewhat over painted during a very sensitive restoration, probably in the 19th century. And the fact that it is executed on vellum, in this case the first example by the master in this medium to come to light, probably convinced the experts that it was done by a German artist in the 19th century.

    The work, a ‘nuptial’ portrait of a young woman in profile”, dating from Leonardo’s first Lombard period, ca.1485, measures ca.24×33 centimeters. The first to have fully understood the importance ot this work was Dr. Nicholas Turner formerly curator of drawings at the British museum and the Getty museum.

    “This finished, coloured drawing on vellum shows a young woman in profile to the left, her hair descending in a single plait from beneath an elaborate head-dress or caul, wearing late fifteenth-century Italian costume,” Turner writes. “Based on its style and left-handed shading, it can only be one of two things — an original work by Leonardo da Vinci or a copy, pastiche or fake made to look like an autograph portrait
    by Leonardo.”

    This was followed by positive opinions by Mina Gregori, Carlo Pedretti and Allesandro Vezzosi, director of the Da Vinci museum in Vinci who will be featuring the work in his new monograph on the artist ‘Leonardo Infinito’ which will be published in Italy.

    Dr. Cristina Geddo, an art scholar from Milan, wrote “one can only suppose that Leonardo was the artist responsible for this work, a conclusion that is supported, in my opinion, by four fundamental arguments: the unequivocal character of the style and of the physiognomy; the unrivalled quality of the execution; the irrefutable evidence of the recurring, left-handed shading; and the selfsame experimental technique with which the portrait itself is realized.”

    The technical analysis and visual elements for the attribution by the experts and art historians was done by the independent research group, Lumiere Technology, a Paris based institute.


  2. ‘Leonardo painted nude Mona Lisa’

    Second version embodied another concept of Venus, expert claims

    16 November, 15:36

    (ANSA) – Florence, November 16 – Leonardo da Vinci painted a nude version of the Mona Lisa, an Italian art expert says.

    In a new book, Florentine art expert and Leonardo specialist Renzo Manetti said there was strong evidence for the never-discovered work because of alleged imitations.

    Manetti argues that, like other Renaissance artists inspired by so-called Neoplatonic philosophy, Leonardo had conceived a ‘heavenly’ and a ‘vulgar’ version of the same subject, which represents the two sides of the love goddess Venus.

    “Even though the (nude) painting has been lost, there are at least ten reproductions or comparable works, painted by pupils or disciples, which enable us to reconstruct the original,” Manetti argues in his book, The Mona Lisa’s Veil.

    Manetti points in particular to a work by Leonardo’s student Andrea Salai, Monna Vanna, but also says two well-known works by Raphael, The Veiled Woman and La Fornarina, express the same Neoplatonic concept.

    The undiscovered nude Mona Lisa is in the same pose as the one in the Louvre, but on a balcony with a breast showing, says Manetti.

    One of the other touted nude Mona Lisas, once actually attributed to Leonardo, was shown in June at the Museo Ideale in Leonardo’s hometown of Vinci.

    The exhibition was the largest ever on Leonardo’s masterpiece and all it has inspired.


    Unlike most Renaissance portraits, Leonardo’s original Mona Lisa (mona is the standard Italian contraction for madonna, or ”my lady,”) bears no date or signature, nor is the name of the sitter given.

    These omissions, coupled with the sitter’s mysterious close-lipped smile, have helped spawn endless theories about the woman’s identity.

    Various contemporary court beauties and noblewomen have been put forward, including Isabella d’Este and Isabella Gualanda, while some have concluded that she was Leonardo’s mother.

    Other academics argue that the sitter was one of his favourite young lovers disguised as a woman.

    Such theorists note that da Vinci never relinquished the painting, keeping it with him up until his death in Amboise, France in 1519.

    There is in fact no evidence that da Vinci was paid for the portrait or that it was ever delivered.

    The Mona Lisa’s strange smile has also led to endless speculation and theories, some of the most curious provided by medical experts-cum-art lovers.

    One group of medical researchers has maintained that the sitter’s mouth is so firmly shut because she was undergoing mercury treatment for syphilis which turned her teeth black.

    An American dentist has claimed that the tight-lipped expression was typical of people who have lost their front teeth, while a Danish doctor was convinced she suffered from congenital palsy which affected the left side of her face and this is why her hands are overly large.

    A French surgeon has also put forth his view that she was semi-paralysed, perhaps as the result of a stroke, and that this explained why one hand looks relaxed and the other tense.

    An Italian doctor has pointed to an alleged puffy cheek and swollen hand to claim she was suffering from a ‘fatty blood’ disorder.


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