Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018

Uncovered altar 'may lead to Mona Lisa remains'


(ANSA) - Florence, July 17 - Researchers in Florence said
Tuesday they had uncovered the base of a 15th-century altar that
may lead to the tomb and remains of the model for Leonardo da
Vinci's Mona Lisa.
"It makes it more likely that the remains of the noblewoman
are hidden in the area," said a statement from researchers at
the former convent of Saint Ursula.
"After 1500, only two women were burried here: Mona Lisa
Gherardini, in 1542, and another noblewoman, Maria del Riccio.
The researchers added that the dead were traditionally
burried near church altars at the time, and that carbon-14
analysis would be neccessary to properly date any recovered
If enough is discovered, experts may be able to reconstruct
the woman's face and find out more about that famous smile.
"I'm confident we're going to find something," said Silvano
Vinceti, an art historian who has found the bones of Caravaggio
and reconstructed the faces of other artists based on their
Vinceti, now head of the National Committee for the
Enhancement of Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage,
stressed that "this is a search that is justified by historical
documents, starting with (pioneering art historian Giorgio)
He said the clincher was the recent discovery in Germany of
a document written in Latin by Leonardo's scribe which said a
woman called Lisa had been the model for the masterpiece now
housed in the Louvre.
Vinceti and his team have been using a 'georadar' device to
scan underneath the old convent to find the DNA of Lisa
Gherardini Del Giocondo and compare it with that of her two
children buried in Florence's Santissima Annunziata church.
Leonardo sleuth Giuseppe Pallanti published a book in 2007
arguing the former convent "must be" the last resting place of
La Gioconda, as the Italians call the Mona Lisa because of the
surname of her husband, del Giocondo.
Pallanti said he was "sure she's down there".
He said his research has wiped away all doubt about the
identity of La Gioconda, who is believed to have joined the
Ursuline nuns in old age.
"It was her, Lisa, the wife of the merchant Francesco
del Giocondo - and she lived right opposite Leonardo in Via
Ghibellina," Pallanti said.
Last year's search, which went on from April until funds
ran out in December, "only discovered bones that were about 200
years older than Lisa's would be," Vinceti said.
As well as the key DNA match, carbon-dating and other tests
will also be carried out by the University of Bologna.
Most modern scholars have now agreed with Pallanti that the
Mona Lisa sitter was Lisa del Giocondo, who according to the
Italian researcher became a nun after her husband's death and
died in the convent on July 15, 1542, aged 63.
The couple were married in 1495 when the bride was 16
and the groom 35.
It has frequently been suggested that del Giocondo
commissioned Leonardo to paint his Mona Lisa (mona is the
standard Italian contraction for madonna, or "my lady,") to
mark his wife's pregnancy or the recent birth of their second
child in December 1502.
Although pregnancy or childbirth have been put forward in
the past as explanations for Mona Lisa's cryptic smile, other
theories have not been lacking - some less plausible than
Some have argued that the painting is a self-portrait of
the artist, or one of his favourite male lovers in disguise,
citing the fact that Da Vinci never actually relinquished the
painting and kept it with him up until his death in Amboise,
France in 1519.
The most curious theories have been 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
Leading American feminist Camille Paglia simply
concluded that the cool, appraising smile showed that "what
Mona Lisa is ultimately saying is that males are unnecessary".

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