Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mona Lisa, the enigma that the Da Vinci code didn't reveal to you!

La Gioconda is perhaps the most admired painting in the world. Painted in the 16th century (allegedly in 1506) by Leonardo Da Vinci, this enigmatic portrait has been a gateway of many speculations and myths, but maybe the biggest mystery behind the Mona Lisa has always been the woman herself. Who is she?
Many hypotheses have been formulated to solve this question: Giorgio Vasari, who published Da Vinci's biography in 1550 (31 years after Leonardo's death), states there that the woman who served as model for this artwork was Lisa Gherardini (hence the name Mona Lisa - coming from Italian Monna Lisa, Madam Lisa). She was married to a rich merchant in that epoch named Francesco del Giocondo, a close partner of a well known local tycoon, Lorenzo de Medici.
The lack of further information and evidence of the actual existence of Lisa Gherardini, drove people to think that she was actually fiction and perhaps the model was someone different. For example, as according to some persons the woman resembles Da Vinci's face, one of the most common ideas is that the model used to paint the Mona Lisa was Leonardo Da Vinci, this means, it is a self portrait of Da Vinci, but for some reason appearing as a woman. Another suggestion is that the woman is Da Vinci's mother, Caterina (which would also explain the similarity between La Gioconda's face and Da Vinci's as well).
Other theories explain that the woman portrayed is Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan. Leonardo Da Vinci worked for the duke of Milan for several years, and according to this suggestion, this would be the earliest portrait of the then-newly appointed Duchess of Milan.
Perhaps the idea originally stated by Giorgio Vasari was true after all. Today, a team of Italian experts lead by Giuseppe Pallanti, confirmed that they discovered some evidence of the existence of Lisa Gherardini: their research drove them to find a document in a record of deaths of the Santa Orsola convent, in Florence. According to such document, Lisa Gherardini was born on June 15, 1479 and died on July 15, 1542, at age 63.
Some other information revealed by this discovery is that Gherardini lived in the same street that Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence (Via Ghibellina). Gherardini passed her last years in Santa Orsola convent, where her daughter served as a nun. She was buried there.
Will this discovery dissipate all the doubts about the Mona Lisa, which weren't dissipated by the Da Vinci code? Who'll know?


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