Da Vinci Exhumation—To Prove He Was Mona Lisa Model?

EnolaGaia

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Did Leonardo paint himself as "Mona Lisa"?
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO

ROME (AP) -- The legend of Leonardo da Vinci is shrouded in mystery: How did he die? Are the remains buried in a French chateau really those of the Renaissance master? Was the "Mona Lisa" a self-portrait in disguise?

A group of Italian scientists believes the key to solving those puzzles lies with the remains - and they say they are seeking permission from French authorities to dig up the body to conduct carbon and DNA testing.

If the skull is intact, the scientists can go to the heart of a question that has fascinated scholars and the public for centuries: the identity of the "Mona Lisa." Recreating a virtual and then physical reconstruction of Leonardo's face, they can compare it with the smiling face in the painting, experts involved in the project told The Associated Press.

"We don't know what we'll find if the tomb is opened, we could even just find grains and dust," says Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist who is participating in the project. "But if the remains are well kept, they are a biological archive that registers events in a person's life, and sometimes in their death."

The leader of the group, Silvano Vinceti, told the AP that he plans to press his case with the French officials in charge of the purported burial site at Amboise Castle early next week.

But the Italian enthusiasm may be premature.

In France, exhumation requires a long legal procedure, and precedent suggests it's likely to take even longer when it involves a person of great note such as Leonardo.
Jean-Louis Sureau, director of the medieval-era castle located in France's Loire Valley, said that once a formal request is made, a commission of experts would be set up. Any such request would then be discussed with the French Ministry of Culture, Sureau said.

Leonardo moved to France at the invitation of King Francis I, who named him "first painter to the king." He spent the last three years of his life there, and died in Cloux, near the monarch's summer retreat of Amboise, in 1519 at age 67.

The artist's original burial place, the palace church of Saint Florentine, was destroyed during the French Revolution and remains that are believed to be his were eventually reburied in the Saint-Hubert Chapel near the castle.

The tombstone says simply, "Leonardo da Vinci;" a notice at the site informs visitors they are the presumed remains of the artist, as do guidebooks.

"The Amboise tomb is a symbolic tomb; it's a big question mark," said Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of a museum dedicated to Leonardo in his Tuscan hometown of Vinci.

Vezzosi, who is not involved in the project, said that investigating the tomb could help identify the artist's bones with certainty and solve other questions, such as the cause of his death. He said he asked to open the tomb in 2004 to study the remains, but the Amboise Castle turned him down.

As for the latest Italian proposal, Vinceti says preliminary conversations took place several years ago and he plans to follow up with a request next week to set up a meeting to explain the project in detail. This would pave the way for a formal request, he said.

The group of 100 experts involved in the project, called the National Committee for Historical and Artistic Heritage, was created in 2003 with the aim of "solving the great enigmas of the past," said Vinceti, who has written books on art and literature.
Arguably the world's most famous painting, the "Mona Lisa" hangs in the Louvre in Paris, where it drew some 8.5 million visitors last year. Mystery has surrounded the identity of the painting's subject for centuries, with speculation ranging from the wife of a Florentine merchant to Leonardo's own mother.

That Leonardo intended the "Mona Lisa" as a self-portrait in disguise is a possibility that has intrigued and divided scholars. Theories have abounded: Some think that Leonardo's taste for pranks and riddles might have led him to conceal his own identity behind that baffling smile; others have speculated that, given Leonardo's presumed homosexuality, the painting hid an androgynous lover.

Some have used digital analysis to superimpose Leonardo's bearded self-portrait over the "Mona Lisa" to show how the facial features perfectly aligned.

If granted access to the grave site, the Italian experts plan to use a miniature camera and ground-penetrating radar - which produces images of an underground space using radar waves- to confirm the presence of bones. The scientists would then exhume the remains and attempt to date the bones with carbon testing.

At the heart of the proposed study is the effort to ascertain whether the remains are actually Leonardo's, including with DNA testing.

Vezzosi questions the feasibility of a DNA comparison, saying he is unaware of any direct descendants of Leonardo or of tombs that could be attributed with certainty to the artist's close relatives.

Gruppioni said DNA extracted from the bones could also eventually be compared to DNA found elsewhere. For example, Leonardo is thought to have smudged colors on the canvas with his thumb, possibly using saliva, meaning DNA might be found on his paintings, though Gruppioni conceded this was a long shot.

Even in the absence of DNA testing, other tests could provide useful information, including whether the bones belonged to a man or woman, and whether the person died young or old.

"We can have various levels of probability in the attribution of the bones," Gruppioni said. "To have a very high probability, DNA testing is necessary."
The experts would also look for any pathology or other evidence of the cause of death. Tuberculosis or syphilis, for example, would leave significant traces in the bone structure, said Vinceti.

In the best-case scenario - that of a well-preserved skull - the group would take a CAT scan and reconstruct the face, said Francesco Mallegni, an anthropology professor who specializes in reconstructions and has recreated the faces of famous Italians, including Dante.

Even within the committee, experts are divided over the identity of the "Mona Lisa."
Vinceti believes that a tradition of considering the self-portrait to be not just a faithful imitation of one's features but a representation of one's spiritual identity may have resonated with Leonardo.

Vezzosi, the museum director, dismissed as "baseless and senseless" the idea that the "Mona Lisa" could be a self-portrait of Leonardo.

The painting is "like a mirror: Everybody starts from his own hypothesis or obsession and tries to find it there," Vezzosi said in a telephone interview.

He said most researchers believe the woman may have been either a concubine of the artist's sponsor, the Florentine nobleman Giuliano de Medici, or Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a rich silk merchant, Francesco del Giocondo. The traditional view is that the name "Mona Lisa" comes from the silk merchant's wife, as well as its Italian name: "La Gioconda."
SOURCE: hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/ ... _MYSTERIES
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rynner2

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Mona Lisa painting 'contains hidden code'
Art historians are probing a real life Da Vinci Code style mystery after discovering tiny numbers and letters painted into the eyes of the artist's enigmatic Mona Lisa painting.
By Nick Pisa, Rome 10:54PM GMT 12 Dec 2010

Leonardo Da Vinci's 500-year-old Renaissance masterpiece has long been steeped in mystery, and even today the true identity of the woman with the alluring smile still far from certain.

Now members of Italy's National Committee for Cultural Heritage have revealed that by magnifying high resolution images of the Mona Lisa's eyes letters and numbers can be seen.
"To the naked [eye] the symbols are not visible but with a magnifying glass they can clearly be seen," said Silvano Vinceti, president of the Committee.

In the right eye appear to be the letters LV which could well stand for his name Leonardo Da Vinci while in the left eye there are also symbols but they are not as defined.

He said: "It is very difficult to make them out clearly but they appear to be the letters CE or it could be the letter B - you have to remember the picture is almost 500 years old so it is not as sharp and clear as when first painted.
"While in the arch of the bridge in the background the number 72 can be seen, or it could be an L and the number 2."

The painting also featured in the Dan Brown blockbuster The Da Vinci Code, which was turned into a 2006 film starring Tom Hanks. His character interprets secret messages hidden in the Mona Lisa and Da Vinci's other works, including The Last Supper.

Mr Vinceti, who has travelled to Paris to examine the painting in the Louvre gallery where it is on display, explained that in true Dan Brown style they were put onto the mystery after fellow committee member Luigi Borgia discovered a musty book in an antique shop.

The 50 year old volume describes how the Mona Lisa's eyes are full of various signs and symbols and he added: "We are only at the start of this investigation and we hope to be able to dig deeper into this mystery and reveal further details as soon as possible.
"It's remarkable that no-one has noticed these symbols before and from the preliminary investigations we have carried out we are confident they are not a mistake and were put there by the artist."

Mr Vinceti is part of the group asking French authorities for permission to exhume Da Vinci's remains from his tomb at Amboise Castle in the Loire Valley.
They want to see if the artist's skull is there so that they can try and recreate his face and establish if the Mona Lisa is a self portrait of the artist, as many people believe.
Some historians believe that Da Vinci was homosexual and that his love of riddles led him to paint himself as a woman.

Another theory is that the Mona Lisa is Lisa Gheradini, the wife of Florence merchant - or possibly even the artist's mother.

Six months ago Mr Vinceti also made headlines around the world after discovering the bones of Renaissance wild man artist Michelangelo Merisi, otherwise known as Caravaggio, in a long forgotten crypt at Porto Ercole on Italy's Tuscan coast.

Mr Vinceti added: ”Da Vinci put a special emphasis on the Mona Lisa and we know that in the last years of his life he took the painting with him everywhere - he didn’t like it to leave his side and carried it in a secure case.
”We also know that Da Vinci was very esoteric and used symbols in his work to give out messages and we have examined other paintings and have not found any similar numbers or letters.
”Painters we have spoken to have also said they are unlikely to have been put there by mistake so we are confident that they are a message from Da Vinci and were specifically inserted into the eyes by him.

”What adds to the intrigue is that they are in the pupils, the darkest part of the eyes, so they would only be none[sic] by him - if he had wanted them to be more widely seen then he would have put them into the more visible white parts of the eyes.

”The question now is what to they mean - we are fairly confident that the LV is probably his signature but the other numbers and letters? Who knows they may even possibly be a love message to the figure in the painting.”

The Mona Lisa is an oil on panel painting owned by the French government and is known in Italy, where it was painted, as La Gioconda. The image is so widely recognised and caricatured that it is considered the most famous painting in the world.

Da Vinci started to paint it in 1503 or 1504 and finished it in 1519, shortly before his death, and after he had moved to France.

In August 1911 the painting was stolen by an Italian employee at the Louvre who felt that it should be returned to its native Italy and it was only returned two years later after being put on display widely across the country.

It suffered two vandal attacks in 1956 and since then has been behind bullet proof glass - which protected it from the last assault last year when a Russian woman angry at being refused French citizenship threw a tea mug at it which shattered as it hit the glass.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/ ... -code.html
 

rynner2

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Mona Geezer: Was da Vinci's young male apprentice the model model for that famous enigmatic smile?
By Paul Bentley
Last updated at 8:19 AM on 3rd February 2011

Art lovers have for centuries debated the reason for her enigmatic smile.
Now it appears Mona Lisa may have been hiding a remarkable secret – she was a he.
An art historian claims the model in Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece was one of his male muses, a young man called Gian Giacomo Caprotti, whose nose and mouth bear striking similarities to those of Mona Lisa.

Caprotti, who was also known as Salai, worked as an apprentice with the artist for more than two decades from 1490 and they were rumoured to have been lovers.
Some experts had already suggested Leonardo could have based his masterpiece on a self portrait.
But Silvano Vinceti, a researcher who has been analysing the painting using state-of-the-art high-magnification techniques, also claims to have found the letter ‘S’ in the model’s eyes, which may be a reference to Salai.

Several of Leonardo’s works, including St John the Baptist and a drawing called Angel Incarnate, are said to have been based on Salai.
Mr Vinceti, president of Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage, said these paintings depict a slender, effeminate young man with long auburn curls and almost identical facial features to the Mona Lisa.
‘Salai was a favourite model for Leonardo,’ he said. ‘Leonardo certainly inserted characteristics of Salai in the last version of the Mona Lisa.’

Most experts believe the model for the Mona Lisa, which hangs at the Louvre in Paris, was Lisa Gherardini, the 24-year-old wife of a rich Florentine silk merchant.
They say Leonardo started painting her in 1503. But Mr Vinceti claims he may have started in the late 1490s in Milan, coinciding with the time he built up a relationship with Salai.

His claims have caused a stir in the art world, with many dismissing the idea that Mona Lisa was a man. Da Vinci expert Pietro Marani said the theory was ‘groundless’.
The art professor at Milan’s Politecnico university said: ‘All Leonardo subjects look like each other because he represents an abstract ideal of beauty.

They all have this dual characteristic of masculine and feminine.
‘The work began as the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, but over the years it slowly turned into something else; an idealised portrait, not a specific one.
‘That’s also why you have this fascinating face that transcends time and transcends a specific person, and why all these theories keep piling up.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1Css9rr5P

I'm not sure whether the headline meant say 'model model'... :?
 

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EnolaGaia said:
If the skull is intact, the scientists can go to the heart of a question that has fascinated scholars and the public for centuries: the identity of the "Mona Lisa." Recreating a virtual and then physical reconstruction of Leonardo's face, they can compare it with the smiling face in the painting, experts involved in the project told The Associated Press.
Hah and meh. This relies heavily on the fact that Leonardo painted a self portrait without any sight, expertise, perspective or perception defects. It's not a photo you know.
He may have chosen to raise his cheekbones in an attempt to feminise himself at the very least, the saucy bugger.

...the project also relies heavily on the fact the scientists have the least fucking clue what they're doing. Which, given their advance optimism in achieving the 'right' conclusion to their experiment shows a certain lack of objectivity.
 

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Mona Lisa mystery could be solved by woman's remains
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12982898

Art historian Silvano Vinceti The mystery behind the identity of the Mona Lisa has baffled art experts for centuries

Related Stories

* Mona Lisa gives up more secrets
* Remains 'belong to Caravaggio'

Researchers will attempt to identify the woman who sat for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, by digging up the remains of an Italian noblewoman.

Art historian Silvano Vinceti believes that by locating the remains of Lisa Gherardini, he can prove whether or not she was the artist's model.

A recently discovered death certificate suggests she died in 1542 and is interred in a convent in Florence.

The excavation will begin at Saint Orsola later this month.

The mystery behind the Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile has baffled art experts for five-hundred years.

"We can put an end to a centuries-old dispute and also understand Leonardo's relations to his models," Vinceti told the Associated Press news agency.

"To him, painting also meant giving a physical representation to the inner traits of their personalities."

Using scientific techniques, Vinceti says he hopes to extract DNA from the skull of Gherardini - the wife of a rich silk merchant - and rebuild her face.

The group led by Vinceti has already reconstructed the faces of some artists on the basis of their skulls.

Last June, it said it had identified the bones of Italian Renaissance artist Caravaggio and discovered a possible cause of his mysterious death.

However, some doubts have been cast whether analysing centuries-old bones can be conclusive.

Vinceti has been studying the artwork for months. He has claimed to have found symbols hidden in the painting, which is kept at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

He believes Gherardini might have been an early model for the painting, but da Vinci might have been influenced by the face of his young male apprentice and lover.
 

EnolaGaia

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The DNA testing has begun ...

A three-year quest that has put researchers on a path toward what they hope is the "real" face of the Mona Lisa winds closer to its conclusion: Silvano Vinceti says DNA tests have begun on a skeleton his team unearthed in July 2012 in Florence, in an effort to figure out whether it belongs to the painting's purported model, Lisa Gherardini. If it does (a determination that will make use of DNA from the bones of Gherardini’s relatives), he'll create a computer-generated image of her face—one that may or may not be identical to the painting.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Vinceti made waves in 2011 by floating the theory that a male model sat for Leonardo da Vinci during the painting process. If any generated likeness is not a true match, it could indicate that da Vinci used multiple models, perhaps for a specific reason. Vinceti says the test results should be ready by May or June. "If we don’t find her, art historians can continue to speculate about who the model really was," he tells the Journal. ...

http://www.newser.com/story/182498/dna- ... -lisa.html
 

IamSundog

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Umm..dumb question I guess, but what on earth does it matter who the model for the Mona Lisa was?

"We now know conclusively that the model who sat for the Mona Lisa was Mrs. Bertha Lipschitz, a housewife from Guidonia and mother of three".

Would this knowledge contribute anything whatsoever to our understanding or enjoyment of the painting??

:?
 

EnolaGaia

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Update for closure on the effort to find and analyze Gherardini's remains ...

This September 2015 news article states the remains exhumed were too fragmentary to offer usable evidence. In addition, no remains of Gherardini's relatives have been found. This means there's no family DNA against which the remains' DNA could be compared.
Science can't prove bones in Florence are possible Mona Lisa model
Scientific testing of bone fragments from a Florence church grave could not determine whether they are from the body of a Renaissance-era woman some believe was the model for Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," researchers said Thursday. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/scienc...ce-are-the-leonardo-da-vinci-mona-lisa-model/
 
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