A mystery of the world’s most famous portrait may be on the cusp of being solved.
No, we still don’t know why Mona Lisa is smiling, but we may soon know where she’s buried. Italian art historian/detective Silvano Vinceti announced this week that he is beginning DNA tests on a skeleton he thinks might belongs to Lisa del Giocondo — an Florentine noblewoman art historians think sat as the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s painting between 1503 and 1506, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Vinceti tracked the suspected bones down to the convent of Sant’Orsola two years ago. Ansa reports that del Giocondo likely joined the convent in her old age.
The art detective is best known for using the skeleton of troubled Italian painted Caravaggio to prove that his unsolved 1610 death was caused by his art — from lead (paint) poisoning.
If he verifies the identity of the skeleton through comparisons with her living relatives, Vinceti plans to use the skull to create a facial reconstruction. The project, however, has riled art historians, as Vinceti’s goal is to investigate his 2011 theory that da Vinci used more than one model for the painting — including, possibly, a boy.
“She is androgynous,” he said. “This has a cultural significance.”