It’s one of history’s favorite mysteries: Who is the woman in the famous portrait the Mona Lisa? Why mankind is determined to answer that question remains a mystery itself; the woman is not particularly beautiful by today’s standards, and her smile is less threatening and knowing than the average woman’s today. That being said, the quest to identify her is still on, and researchers now feel they have unearthed two skeletons which may hold the key to her identity.

mona lisa

Two female bodies have been found in Florence (2012), one whole, one fragmented, both under suspicion of being the famous Mona Lisa. Archeologists believe the da Vinci painting is done after the real-life model Mona Lisa Gherardini who is purported to be buried beneath the former convent of St. Ursula in Florence. It was in this location that scientists uncovered the new female specimens.

Thus far, there are seven bodies which have been unearthed in the location, and any one of them may be the elusive Mona Lisa Gherardini.  The renewed quest to find the identity of the Mona Lisa comes on the heels of the release of a second image known as the known as the Isleworth Mona Lisa. This earlier painting is said to be mathematically proven to be done by da Vinci as well. The legitimacy of the claim is well disputed among experts; however, side-by-side the style and portraits vary only slightly.

Should the body of Lisa Gherardini be found, experts will use DNA comparison to verify her identity. They currently have the remains of two of the lady’s children. If the identity is confirmed, the archeologists will then use facial reconstruction technology to gain an idea of what her true appearance was back when the painting originated. At that moment, most of the world will have a pretty strong indication of whether or not Gherardini was the real Mona Lisa.

 

Existence of the real Mona Lisa?

Some theorists, however, do not feel the Mona Lisa actually existed. Some feel she was a figment of da Vinci’s imagination, and others feel she was a creation designed after da Vinci himself. In fact, a study into this theory was launched years ago, and using measurements of the facial features on da Vinci’s own face, experts were able to match up the linear features on that of the Mona Lisa painting.

The theory didn’t gain much ground with speculators, as the angles and transposition of the two images were fairly generic. Because no records were left behind on the image, neither theory surrounding da Vinci’s imagination can be proved or disproven. Only if the facial reconstruction shows a significant likeness can all other ideas be put to rest.

Until Gherardini is found, the world will continue to wonder just who the Mona Lisa was. Her smile, which has captured the imagination of people for centuries, is something which cannot be so easily dissected.

Update 2014: Art Sleuth Starts DNA Tests on Possible Skeleton of the Real Mona Lisa

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