Scientists are opening the grave of a nun to see if she was the model for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
The 16th century tomb of Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo is being explored in the hopes of finding her skull. With modern facial reconstruction techniques, it’s possible to tell what she looked like, and this will confirm or deny a popular theory that she was the model for the famous painting.
Archaeologists are using subsurface imaging to probe the area under a crypt and staircase they’ve uncovered inside an old convent where the women is presumed to have been buried. They believe that several tombs lie at the bottom of the stairs.
Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo was the wife of a wealthy merchant and when her husband died she became a nun at the convent of San Orsula in Florence, where she died in 1542. It was common in those days for women to join a convent when they were widowed. One has to wonder what Sister Del Giocondo thought of being the subject of the most talked-about portrait in history.
The Mona Lisa has been argued about for generations. Some researchers say the model was Da Vinci’s gay lover, while others say it’s Da Vinci himself in drag.
The lower tombs will be opened in the next few days. Stayed tuned to see if the team finds Mona Lisa’s celebrated head among the remains.
[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]
When Marcel Duchamp put a mustache and goatee on the Mona Lisa, he might have guessed more than he knew.
Italian researchers are requesting permission to dig up Leonardo Da Vinci’s grave to prove their theory that his most famous painting is actually a self-portrait. Anthropologist Giorgio Gruppione wants to examine Da Vinci’s skull to see if it has structural similarities to the mysterious woman in the portrait. This process of facial reconstruction is usually reserved for murder victims, but could give evidence to support or refute the theory and add a new possibility for the origins of that enigmatic smile.
There’s been a great deal of discussion among historians as to Da Vinci’s sexuality. In 1476 he was brought before a judge in Florence on charges of sodomy with a male prostitute. Da Vinci claimed the young man was merely his model. They were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Da Vinci never married and claimed the act of reproduction was “disgusting”. He had a serious of close relationships with young men throughout his life but was never charged with sodomy again, perhaps because that close call in Florence taught him caution.
It’s doubtful that authorities in France, where Da Vinci is buried, will give permission to desecrate the grave of one of the world’s most famous artists just to prove he was a cross dresser, so probably we’ll just have to settle for the Transsexual Jesus.