Lionardo da Vinci

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Mona Lisa

Is the most famous work of art in existence. Her face is also one of the most recognizable - and is potentially worth a billion dollars. It's both a mystery and a controversy over who she really is and how she was painted.

This page is being updated 2/4/2015 -D

The Mona Lisa


Notes:

  • It’s 30 × 21 inches - 77 x 53.2 cm.
  • It’s painted on poplar wood.
  • The poplar wood is 79.4 x 53.4 x 1.4 cm. 
  • The paintings width has shrunk from it's original 55.5 cm to 53.2 because of aging. 
  • It's said to be painted between 1503-1507 (This was recently recanted and extended to be over 10 years) 1503-1519 (He probably worked on her up until his death.)
  • There are 3 other paintings/layers underneath the top (view-able) coat – (she was x-rayed)
  • It’s owned by the French government and housed in the Louvre Museum in France. 
  • It's reported to be a portrait of “Lisa Gherardini” by Vassari, Leonardo's biographer.  (I show why it's not the real Lisa G in my book)
  • She wasn't titled or called "Mona Lisa"  until after Leonardo's death and before that was called:
  1. A Courtesan in a Gauze Veil (Real Lisa wasn't a courtesan)
  2. A certain Florentine Lady (Why call it that if they knew who the model was?) 
  3. La Gioconda or La Joconde which means "Light Heart-ed" 
  • The veil was something women wore at the time when they were pregnant.  A "Guarnello."
  • There is debate as to whether the painting originally had pillars on each side due to early copies showing them and their bases being present in the painting. If there were why were they removed? Or if there weren't then why are the bases still there?  (See below) 


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Mona Lisa and Leo's self portrait combined.

 

  • Lillian Schwartz noticed that Leonardo's Self Portrait aligns withe the face of the Mona Lisa. When I tested that out myself I discovered that she was right and eventually realized he did this intentionally and potentially why he would have done this.  

 

  • The Mona Lisa's seems to not have any eyebrows - but Cotte said:

 "One day I say, if I can find only one hair, only one hair of the eyebrow, I will have definitively the proof that originally Leonardo da Vinci had painted eyelash and eyebrow,"

I read something that a restorer purposely removed the eyebrows or alternatively Leonardo left the eyebrows absent or obscured to facilitate his "Sfumato" effects.

  • "In 2005 Heidelberg University academics discovered notes scribbled into the margins of a book by its owner in October 1503. These notes state that Leonardo is working "on the head of Lisa del Giocondo." While I do think that is possible and probable that Leonardo could have painted the real Lisa G - that doesn't mean that the painting we see is of her. He could have painted another, or covered it up. Since she is made up of multiple layers (thousands) painted over almost 20 years it's unlikely that the image he started with and ended with are the same. 
  • The Mona Lisa once held Guinness’s world record for the most expensive painting of all time. It was valued for insurance reasons at 100 million dollars- but that was over 20 years ago. If you were to calculate inflation and the revived attention Da Vinci and the Mona Lisa have been getting it would probably be worth close to a billion dollars! Although now it's said to be un-insurable because it is considered "priceless."
  • Different people will identify different expressions on her face. This is because of his subtle Sfumato technique that avoids hard edges. I see her expression as "I know something you don't know" It also changes and is an example of an optical and perceptual illusion. It's psychological in nature in that people see what they expect, or are told to see. Since the sfumato effect makes the areas of the face that make an expression "blurry/fuzzy" when someone looks at her, they can perceive the expression many different ways. Although this effect is lessened in photographs and needs to be seen in real life to be fully appreciated. 

 


Copy by - unknown. Notice the blacked out background and the presence of the pillars

Copy by - unknown. Notice the blacked out background and the presence of the pillars

The Painting

The "Mona Lisa" the most famous work of art in the entire world. Worth well over a BILLION dollars. Painted by the greatest genius of all time. She consists of hundreds of thousands of layers of paint that are smaller than the human hair. She has been analyzed by 3d laser scanning technology - and we still can't understand how she was painted.(From 500 years ago) Britney Spears has a song about her. So does Countless rappers. Movies have been made about her. Documentaries. papers, articles, books.. Why is this painting so special? 

"The best and most powerful way to explain why the Mona Lisa is considered the greatest painting of all time would be to hand you a brush and paint ask you to paint her yourself" - Discovering Da Vinci's Daughter

Why would someone who is considered the smartest person ever, the greatest artist that has ever lived - spend 20+ years on a single painting? Someone who invented, airplanes, rail-guns, tanks, automobiles, parachutes, helicopters, and scub-gear. (the list goes on)

There is a reason for her complexity. There is a reason she is the most famous face in the entire world. She was designed to be, and he succeeded, admirably.

Who she 'is', when she was painted, and even how she was painted are mysteries. You might wonder why? Why are there mysteries about a painting from someone who seemed to write almost everything down?

In all of Leonardo's hundreds of thousands of pages of notebooks, he mentions nothing seemingly specific about this painting. He didn't even title her. Instead his journals are written to teach someone how to truly see her. Once you can do that, then all of the mysteries turn from coincidences to clues. 


"George Dawe was an English portrait artist who painted 329 portraits of Russian generals active during Napoleon's invasion of Russia for the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia. I'm using digital copies of these paintings as a basis for my own work which involves incorporating celebrities into the paintings using photoshop." Link

Above demonstrates the idea that I'm going to describe. The "Mona Lisa' wasn't just a portrait of a individual woman "Lisa" it was a style/ pose/ composition/ position/ that became a "Mona Pose" or technically a "Portrait style" - like the example above, Leonardo would use the composition as a type of template to paint multiple people and to teach others. Similar to a standard paint by numbers. Another way to think about it would be to get your face on a coin or a dollar bill except the pose was not the portrait of Lisa G, it was getting yourself done in a Giacondo or  a "Mona Lisa" in the same way that we use terms like Windex/ instead of window cleaner. Instead of saying "portrait" "Mona Lisa" became synonymous with getting your portrait done in THAT STYLE. Just like how "Selfie" became synonymous with "Self portrait"

Copy of a copy of a copy...

  • Why would you make multiple copies of a portrait from a copy? It's like a copy machine that gets less and less accurate the more times you copy the copy. The more he would have worked on the painting - the further from the original it would get. That is assuming that the original portrait was the same painting. It's most likely and almost necessary that even if the source/ inspiration for the "Mona Lisa" was a portrait for a real life Lisa G - that the versions, copies, and especially the Mona Lisa hanging in France is a lot more, a whole lot more than what it started as. You'll notice in the various copies that even though they are all in the same pose that the actual faces themselves are not really the same person - and how could they be with 10+ years, and thousands of layers of paint (If the original was on the same piece of wood)  What I mean is that in the course of about 20 years Leonardo developed and used the "Mona Lisa pose/ composition" to test out his painting technique, to teach his students by copying it (many copies were made in his lifetime by his followers) and the same pose/ was used as a new type of style/ standard for other painters as well. It would become a "thing" to have yourself painted in the "Mona Pose" back then - as it was today. It could be that a real life "Lisa" was just one of the sitters. It could also be, that she was not the first and she definitely was not the last. . .

 It was also a way - like it is today - to get a caricature of yourself that was personalized with symbolic meaning. In the first example you'll see she is holding some type of reed or plant. This could be because she was in the textile trade. Similar to how the Woman with Ermine is holding it to symbolize something. As the painting evolved, it would develop into a more personal - private meaning to Leonardo further differentiating it from what it started out as and into his true legacy. 

The painting can be considered in three parts: 

  • The composition

  • The sitter (the Pose)

  • The face

These three aspects to the painting are important to differentiate when considering the Mona Lisa - especially in the consideration of her creation, copying, and various iterations. What I mean by that is that even during Leonardo's lifetime there were multiple versions (that he himself made) copies and other paintings inspired by it.  The reason it's important to think of these ideas separately is that they can be mixed and matched. The four images above show the four version of the "Mona Lisa" which were either by or directly related to Leonardo himself - while he was alive. The first is a sketch and shows the "pose" or the "Sitter" and is most likely a "Proto Mona" or a "Cartoon" and would then turn into a painting. In the next image called the Isleworth Mona Lisa- now a painting - the pose remains but that a background has been added - establishing a "Composition" but that the face is not necessarily the same person. The next - The Prado - was supposedly painted alongside the "Original" which in this case shows that the painting we usually reffer to as the "original" (The Louvre Version" didn't come first and was itself a copy. 

What happens now is we are confronted with a confusion. These images span almost 20 years with gaps of time between them - AND each painting itself taking multiple years. So how could all of them have been painted from life - based on a real life woman? 

It's more likely that the final version was the result of the evolution of an idea - rather than a simple portrait of a relatively insignificant woman who's portrait he never gave her. Which one would he have? 

The changes from the Isleworth to the Prado is more of a revolution than an evolution. The differences between the Prado to the Louvre - is much different. They are nearly identical in composition - so much so that they would have to have been copied - intentionally from the same source. What I mean by that is that they were not the result of two different artists looking at a model but two artists painting the exact same compositions. The composition came first and was used in both the Prado and Louvre version. The Prado was filled in by Salai (Leonardo's pupil/ Lover) and the Louvre was by Leonardo. They would have HAD to work together on both paintings (The under images/ changes are the same) but also that they intended for them to be nearly, compositionally - identical. Or in other words they started with something like a "paint by numbers" and filled them in. 

The Composition

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The composition is how the painting is arranged. A woman on a ledge, flanked by columns, overlooking a landscape that is perspectivly disjointed. She is sitting with her hands crossed in front of her. There are clouds and rocks and rivers and a bridge. Basically what is in the painting and how they are placed - how it would look if outlined.

 

 

 

 

The Sitter - The Pose

One way we recognize the Mona Lisa is the sitter: not who she was but how she is sitting, the clothing, and especially the pose. It's usually pretty obvious when someone is sitting in such a way as to mimic the woman in the painting - she is iconic for the way she is sitting. 



The Face

This means how her actual face appears. Her facial structure, skin tone, etc. That you would recognize her by her face alone. 

Why the perspective unexpectedly rises behind the sitter.

 

 

When the painting is rolled up - the outside edges align.

No one has ever been explain to explain this seemingly obvious mistake. The perspective is incorrect in the background behind her. It's un-naturally higher on one side than on the other. Why? Leonardo all but "Wrote the book" on perspective so this is definitely not a mistake but intentional. 

 

If you take a copy of the Mona Lisa and roll it up so that it's outer edges touch, you'll notice they align. In the two copies above you can see what i mean. You'll see that they match up. When rolled up, it becomes even more obvious.

This painting also used to have pillars on it's side that were removed at some point. I think this could be a  clue to help someone figure this ' misaligned perspective' out. It's suppose to make you ask:

"Why would someone cut off the sides of the Mona Lisa?"

It's in asking that question that leads you to many more. The demonstration above wouldn't be possible with the pillars intact. What happens when the outside edges align with each other - and the perspective is off - is that your innate visual processing perceptions will subconsciously realize this and attempt to "re-align" them. It acts as an optical illusions and this was definitely Leonardo's intention as it adds a "special effect" to the painting that adds a sense of movement. 

 



The Columns

The Mona Lisa has what appear to be remnants of columns on each side of the ledge/ window that she is sitting at. It's been debatable whether the sides were originally cut down or if the columns were added later or possibly even by another artist. A more interesting point to this is that in the earlier version of the Mona Lisa there are columns and they take up more space and are more clearly defined. 

From the image, which is of the Mona Lisa (Louvre Version) without the frame we can see that the paint ends before the wood does. This would mean that even if someone cut the sides down - there was no paint there anyways so it would have no effect on the painting itself. The only other way to account for this would be that someone not only cut the edges down but also removed some paint from the wood that is still there and visible. If you look in the corner or the top - you'll see that the edges appear the same and that the paint(ing) ends in the same area - suggesting that was the intentional ending to the painting and that even if the sides were cut down it didn't remove any of the actual image. 

You'll also notice that the column is somewhat transparent and can be seen through - meaning that it was applied later, or OVER the ledge. 

 



  • "Kenneth Clark, in his letter to Murray Urquhart of 25th February, 1943, opines that columns evidently formed part of the original design (of the Louvre ‘Mona Lisa’).
  • In 1959, the distinguished German art historian, Richard Friedenthal: (‘Leonardo da Vinci – A Pictorial Biography’) states that “ … it [the Louvre ‘Mona Lisa’] was cut by about 10cm on each side.” That would have meant that the panel was wider by about 20cm, roughly 8 inches.
  • The lady sits by the parapet of a loggia, which was originally extended at each side to include two columns framing the landscape, as in a window. These are now reduced to little more than vertical strips, but their bases are easily visible and their foreshortening offers the only element of linear perspective in the picture. Originally, then, the overwhelming presence of the lady was kept in check by the architectural structure of her setting.” (Carlo Pedretti: ’Leonardo – A Study in Chronology and Style’, 1973)

Professor Pedretti here makes the strong point that the architectural structure of the Louvre version of the ‘Mona Lisa’ would have been better served with columns to frame the composition. Leonardo’s ‘Earlier Version’ has columns that can be clearly seen in their original state.

  • In ‘Leonardo – The Artist and the Man’ (English edition, 1992), Serge Bramly writes: “The panel has lost a strip of about seven centimeters from each side: we can no longer see the two columns that originally framed the landscape, which appear in old copies and in Raphael’s drawing.
  • In a subsequent book: ‘Mona Lisa – The Enigma’, author Bramly iterates: “Like so many of Leonardo’s works, the ‘Mona Lisa’ has suffered both from the ravages of time and from rough treatment by restorers: it has been narrowed by six or seven centimeters on both the right and left.”
  • Professor Pietro Marani, (in ‘Leonardo da Vinci – The Complete Paintings’, 2000) writes: “She does sit between two columns that, because the panel has been cut down at the sides, are now scarcely visible at the very edges of the composition.
  • In ‘Art In Renaissance Italy’ by John T. Paoletti and Gary M. Radke, the authors write in 2005 that: “At one time the figure was flanked by columns whose bases are part visible on the ledge behind her …” "

Quotes compiled by monalisa.org


Who was the Model?

the name game

The confusion about the identity of the sitter is mostly due to the various sources for this information to be conflicting. That combined with the inability to know for certain which painting or which version of which painting is being discussed. Is it the Isleworth Mona Lisa? Maybe there was another painting being referenced that was lost or destroyed or mis-attributed. How do we know it's not a different painting all together - or one of Leonardo's other paintings of women? Without a photograph or some specific detail - such as "Lady with an Ermine" most of Leonardo's paintings could be described the same. A portrait of a woman. When you combine these factors with hearsay and not to mention Leonardo's own secrecy and personal puzzles - we only find strings of clues. They do seem like clues in a "who done it" but in this case it's more of a "Who is she?" 

Traditionally the sitter was considered to be Lisa Gheradini - the wife of a wealthy silk merchant. This was based off a single sentence by Leonardo's first biographer - who never even met Leonardo. Where did he get this information? Which painting is he referring to? 

“Leonardo undertook to execute, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife; and after toiling over it for four years, he left it unfinished; and the work is now in the collection of King Fraces of France, at Fontainebleau.” – Vasari

October 10th, 1517

“uno di certa dona fire[n]tina facta di naturale ad instantia del quo[n]dam Magn Juliano de’ Medici…”

“one of a certain Florentine woman, done from life, at the instance of the late Magnificent Giuliano de’ Medici…”

The second source is from Antonio de Beatis - and his account most likely came straight from Leonardo's mouth. Again, Leonardo didn't say who it was other than "A certain Florentine woman" and instead of Francesco del Giocondo it's "Giuliano de' Medici" which is kinda like saying "It's some girl from Vegas that the president's brother said I should paint." Leonardo could have been bragging, making things up, or spreading the information he wanted to fit in with a larger scheme. This is conflicting with Vasari. It also doesn't identify the sitter - was there something to hide? 

The other titles the painting has gone by:

  • "A Certain Florentine Lady"
  • "A courtesan in gauze veil"
  • "La Joconde"
  • "Mona Lisa"
  • "La Giaconda"

Contemplate the coincidences:

Leonardo supposedly paints a portrait of a woman starting in 1503. At this time her identity is unknown since the first to say who it was didn't assert anything until 30 years after da Vinci’s death. There is a list of his paintings with the title “La Joconde” that describes a portrait of a woman that seems to describe the painting. This is why Mona Lisa sometimes titled: La Joconde. Before Vasari said it was “Mona Lisa” the painting went by the names:

"A certain Florentine lady” - “A courtesan in a gauze veil” - "La Giaconda" 

 

Then after Leonardo's death and 30 years later Vasari wrote:

“Leonardo undertook to execute, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife; and after toiling over it for four years, he left it unfinished; and the work is now in the collection of King Fraces of France, at Fontainebleau.” – Vasari

After this the painting goes by the title “Mona Lisa"

The alternative title “La Joconde” means “light hearted” in French. Jocund means “light hearted” in English.

Francesco del Giocondo’s last name: Giocondo in the feminine form- La Giocanda also means “light hearted Woman" SO. La Jaconde -> La Gioconda -> Madam Lisa Giocondo = Mona Lisa The coincidence is that all these titles are related but from different sources. There is a little French/ Italian word play going on. This means that coincidentally the name on a piece of paper, the last name of the supposed sitter, and her expression- all happen to be related in a strange, complicated, coincidental way...

Light Hearted: 

Is another word play - visual allusion. The heart of the painting - the center of the actual image is located where her HEART would be and is also where the most light in the painting is. This is probably why "La Joconde" or Madam Lisa Giocondo was suggested/ used. Or that she wasn't used for her face but for her name. After all how do you know what someone looks like when there are no pictures and the painting supposedly painted of her was painted when she couldn't have been there. 


A Time Line of Mona Lisa 

  • 1503- Started painting her after being commissioned by Lisa Giocondo’s Husband. – According to Vasari
  • 1503- October. Agostino Vespucci writes that Leonardo is painting a portrait of Lisa G. 
  • 1504 - Sketched by Raphael - probably the Isleworth Version
  • 1506- Stopped after “toiling over her for 4 years.” 
  • 1506-1519 - Carried it with him everywhere before giving it to The King of France when he died. (or the king bought it)
  • 1517- Antonio de Beatis says that Leonardo finished it by 1517 and that it was for Giuliano de' Medici - not the Giocondos. Leonardo worked for Fiuliano in Rome 1513-1516 before moving to France with the King. 
  • 1584-Gian Paolo Lomazzo,  differentiates between the earlier and Louvre versions of the ‘Mona Lisa’,  “a Gioconda and a Mona Lisa.
  • 1911 – August 21: Stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia for 2 years but was finally returned after he was caught trying to sell it.
  • 1956 - Someone threw acid on it and then someone else in the same year threw a rock!
  • 1962 -1963: was displayed in New York and Washington D.C.
  • 1974: Exhibited in Tokyo and Moscow

 

Mona Lisa: Leonardo's Earlier Version

By The Mona Lisa Foundation

 



The History of the Mona Lisa:

 

This painting has a past that’s even more intriguing and controversial than her smile. There seems to be almost too much vagueness and things that don’t make sense for something created by someone who left behind thousands of notes and journals. Why there’s even conflicting information makes me wonder; what’s really going on? History is full of misconceptions but the story behind Mona Lisa is more than just a difference of opinion but more like a pre-meditated advertising scheme.

Why didn't Leonardo just leave a date and title or anything about the painting? It seems like that should be the real mystery! What reason could he have behind not labeling this painting or even mentioning her anywhere? Everything we “know’ about the Mona Lisa including the title is from Vasari. He wrote the first biography of Leonardo around 1550. He said that Da Vinci worked on the Mona Lisa for four years but didn't part with her until around 1517 when he went to France to work for King François I. The king either bought the painting around that same time or inherited it when Leonardo died on May 2, 1519. (like I said there is conflicting information) Either way Leonardo had access the painting until his death. She stayed in France, where she still remains. (Leonardo is Italian though.) 

Something to consider about the Mona Lisa is why she became so popular but also when she did. Before the advent of the Photograph the only people who could have seen her would have been people who could see her in person. Since the painting is so complicated it’s very difficult to make a believable fake. The painting’s real popularity grew after she was stolen. Before that she was mostly known by art aficionados and those interested in art enough to go visit her. It’s very difficult to become popular without being able to be seen. Especially for a painting! 

 

What others have to say about the Mona Lisa: 


“She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times and learned the secrets of the grave.” Walter Pater - Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873)
“The smile of La Gioconda (another title for Mona Lisa) was for too long, perhaps, the Sun of Art. The adoration of her is like a decadent Christianity - peculiarly depressing, utterly demoralizing. One might say to paraphrase, Arthur Rimbaud, that La Gioconda, the eternal Gioconda has been a thief of the energies.” André Salmon, La jeune peinture francaise (1912). 
“Her hesitating smile which held my youth in a little tether has come to seem to me but a grimace and the pale mountains no more mysterious that a globe or map seen at a distance, a sort of riddle, an acrostic, a poetical decoction, a ballade, a rondel, a villanelle or ballade with double burden, a sestina or chant royal. The Mona Lisa (is) literature in intention rather than painting” - George Moore, Wale, (1914)
“Mona Lisa is the only beauty who went through history and retained her reputation” – Will Rogers
“How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: 'The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.' This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don't want this to happen to 2001.” - ? “You cannot paint the "Mona Lisa" by assigning one dab each to a thousand painters.” William F. Buckley
“Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club? Could the New Testament have been composed as a conference report? Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.” Alfred Whitney Griswold by Livingston and Evans Recorded January 7, 1958


Articles

  • This story does not 'confirm' Mona's identity all it does is give evidence that Leonardo had painted, or started a painting/ portrait of Lisa. That does not mean the painting or the person in the painting was/ is her. This could, and is probably referring to the earlier copy (The Isleworth) or even an unknown or lost version. It's also only an additional source that states the same as Vassari had. 

Mona Lisa's Identity Confirmed by Document



Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

Mona Lisa Is Lisa
Notes written in October 1503 in the margin of a book held at Heidelberg University Library confirm Mona Lisa's identity as Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo.



Courtesy of Giuseppe Pallanti |
Birth Certificate
Lisa Gherardini was born on June 15, 1479 in Florence, as birth certificate states, shown here. She was born in a dark alley known as Via Sguazza. The house stood a few hundred feet from the bridge Ponte Vecchio. Rain water and sewage stagnated just in front of the house -- hence the name "sguazza” -- meaning swash.


Jan. 16, 2008 -- The mystery over the identity of the woman behind Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" painting has been solved once and for all, German academics at Heidelberg University announced on Tuesday.
Mona Lisa is "undoubtedly" Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, according to Veit Probst, director of the Heidelberg University Library.
Conclusive evidence came from notes written in October 1503 in the margin of a book.
Discovered two years ago in the library's collection by manuscript expert Armin Schlechter, the notes were made by Florentine city official Agostino Vespucci, an acquaintance of Leonardo da Vinci, in an edition of letters by the Roman orator, Cicero.
In his annotations, Vespucci wrote that Leonardo was working on three paintings at the time, including a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo.
"All doubts about the identity of the 'Mona Lisa' have been eliminated," the university said in a statement.
Vespucci's notes also "establish more precisely the year the painting was done," the university said.
Until now, the only other source to have identified the sitter in Leonardo's masterpiece as Lisa Gherardini, was the 16th century painter and art historian Giorgio Vasari.
In his work "Lives of the Artists," Vasari named Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo as the subject of the portrait and concluded that the portrait was painted between 1503 and 1506.
But doubts about Vasari's attribution have always abounded since he was known to rely on anecdotal evidence.
The work is unsigned, undated and bears nothing to indicate the sitter's name. Attempts to solve the mystery surrounding her famous smile as well as her identity have included theories that she was the artist's mother, a noblewoman, a courtesan, even a prostitute.
There have also been theories that the sitter was happily pregnant, or affected by various diseases ranging from facial paralysis to the compulsive gnashing of teeth.
"The German finding confirms that Vasari is indeed a reliable source," Giuseppe Pallanti, the author of two books on the "Mona Lisa," told Discovery News.
Pallanti was the first historian to identify the sitter in Leonardo's portrait as Lisa Gherardini, following 25 years of research.
"Indeed, I found documents showing that Leonardo's father -- a local notary, Ser Piero da Vinci -- and Lisa's family were neighbors, living about 10 feet away from each other in Via Ghibellina," Pallanti said. "Leonardo met a pregnant Lisa in 1500 in Florence. In December 1502 she gave birth again."
According to Pallanti’s research, Lisa Gherardini, a member of a minor noble family of rural origins, was born on June 15, 1479, in a rather ugly house in Via Sguazza in Florence.
In 1495, when she was 16 years old, she married the merchant Francesco del Giocondo. Ser Francesco was 14 years her senior and had lost his first wife, Camilla Rucellai, the previous year.
The girl moved to Del Giocondo's house, located in today's San Lorenzo market quarter. Though the house was big and beautiful, the surroundings were less than ideal. Prostitutes populated the area, which was a sort of Renaissance red light district.
In that house, Lisa gave birth to five children: Piero, Andrea, Giocondo, Camilla and Marietta.
Pallanti was also able to reconstruct Lisa's last years. She died four years after her husband's death on July 15, 1542, at age 63, and was buried in the convent Saint Orsola."