New archaeological study attempts to uncover the mysteries that shroud one of the world’s most famous paintings: the Mona Lisa. Researchers have long suspected that the model, in the artwork, is Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, whose husband commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to make the portrait. In the new study, a team of Italian archaeologists claims to have discovered bone remains of the woman, who has been the subject of awe, in the art world, for quite some time now.
Born in the year 1479, Mona Lisa belonged to the famous Gherardini family of Florence. Later, after her marriage to a silk merchant named Francesco, she became Lisa del Giocondo. While very little is actually known about her life, the few existing records show that, as a widow, Lisa spent her last years in the convent of Sant’Orsola in Florence, where she died at the age of 63. Over 480 years after her death, a group of researchers has unearthed pieces of bones that could have belonged to the woman, whose portrait now sits in Paris’ Louvre Museum.
In an attempt to establish the identity of Mona Lisa, the archaeologists resorted to exhuming the bodies that lay buried in the convent complex. After four years of digging, the team has managed to uncover nearly a dozen skeletons, of which only one seems to be a match. Carbon dating revealed that around eight of these samples date back to a period much earlier than Lisa Gherardini’s lifetime. The remaining four were discovered inside a common tomb that remained in use till 1545. Upon further analysis, the researchers found one of the specimens, containing only tiny fragments of femur, shinbone and ankle, to belong to the time when Gherardini was alive. Speaking about the find, Silvano Vinceti, the team’s lead historian, said:
[It is] a coming together of elements, from anthropological exams to historic documents, which allow us to conclude that the remains probably belong to Lisa Gherardini.
The extremely humid conditions, of the burial site, have resulted in irreversible deterioration of the skeleton, which is sadly unsuitable for DNA testing. Furthermore, the lack of skull remains renders forensic facial reconstruction nearly impossible. While the discovery does not confirm Mona Lisa’s identity, it leaves room for other hypotheses, such as the belief, among certain art sleuths, that the painting is actually da Vinci’ self-portrait.
Via: The Independent