Mona Lisa mob marvels Miami

Mona LisaIt’s the most iconic painting ever made. The Mona Lisa, painted in the early 16th century by Leonardo Da Vinci, has inspired a whole genre of painting. Perhaps the first imitation was this one by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, Da Vinci’s favorite pupil.

Since then the Mona Lisa has been reproduced on countless coffee mugs, handbags, t-shirts, mousepads, even toothpaste.

Now the Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College is examining this artistic obsession with Mona Lisa Unveiled, an exhibition that traces the influence of Mona Lisa on subsequent artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Jean Margat, and Salvador Dalì.

The painting inspired thieves too. The exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. An Italian named Vincenzo Peruggia hid in a broom closet until the museum closed, and then made off with the painting. He later claimed he wanted it returned to its native Italy. He fled to Florence and kept it in his apartment for two years before trying to sell it to a local gallery. The art dealer did the right thing and called the cops. Peruggia was hailed as an Italian hero and only did a few months in prison.

Mona Lisa Unveiled runs through October 7.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

“Mona Lisa model” to be exhumed

Mona LisaScientists 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]

Mona Lisa was a man, says expert

An Italian researcher, Silvano Vinceti, has an opinion about Mona Lisa: she was a he. Vinceti announced today that a male apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci was the real model for the famous painting. Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salai, studied under Leonardo and he was a longtime companion of his. Vinceti speculates that Caprotti may have also been a lover of Leonardo’s. After all, artists’ lovers are often times their muses.

In Vinceti’s release of this news, he makes a point to say that the portrait represents a synthesis of Leonardo’s scientific, artistic, and philosophical beliefs. Leonardo worked on this portrait for several years, at various intervals. Because of this, he was subjected to different influences and inspiration sources. The canvas is also full of hidden symbolic messages and meanings. Caprotti worked with Leonardo for more than two decades beginning in 1490. Although their relationship seems to be definitively ambiguous, many art historians agree with Vinceti and believe that Caprotti was Leonardo’s lover.

And hey, I just want to point out, the letters for the name ‘Lisa’ are found in the name ‘Salai’. Read more on this discovery at ABC. [Thanks, ABC]

Is the Mona Lisa really Da Vinci in drag?

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.

McDonald’s to move in next to Louvre

McDonald’s is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in France by opening a new location in the Carrousel du Louvre. This underground mall connects to the storied museum that is home to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. So, if the latter had arms, she could sport the former’s smile with a Big Mac.

France is McDonald’s biggest market outside the United States, despite the vocal local minority, and planting a fast food joint next to the most visited museum in the world is a no-brainer. The chain already has more than 1,000 restaurants in the country, and the one on the Champs-Elysees is the most profitable McDonald’s in the world.

The Louvre wouldn’t say anything about its prospective neighbor. So far, no date has been set for the opening.