Search for the Real Mona Lisa

Search for the Real Mona Lisa

Researchers are scanning the site of the Sant’ Orsola Convent in Florence with ground-penetrating radar. They’re looking for the remains of Lisa Gherardini ( 1479 –1542), wife of Francesco del Giocondo. You probably know her better as Mona Lisa. Her portrait, painted by neighbor Leonardo da Vinci, now hangs in the Louvre.

Author and da Vinci admirer Giuseppe Pallanti has determined that Lisa Gherardini, who lived with her husband Francesco del Giocondo on via della Stufa in central Florence, was buried at the nearby Franciscan convent, where she retired after her husband’s death. The convent building was later a factory, a shelter for WWII refugees, and a teaching facility before it was partially razed to build barracks for the Italian tax police. The barracks were never completed, but tombs and graves were excavated during the building of underground parking facilities. Some excavated materials were hauled to a landfill outside town, and last year it was thought that Lisa Gherardini’s remains might lie there.

If researchers at the Sant’ Orsola site locate remains they think belong to the woman with the mysterious smile, they can compare the DNA to samples from remains of known Gherardini descendents. Her two children are buried in Florence’s Santissima Annunziata church.

 

Short link: http://bit.ly/mEMYHh

 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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2 Responses to “Search for the Real Mona Lisa”

  1. Dog Gone Says:

    Given the frequency with which bones were buried temporarily and then moved at a later time to make more room for subsequent dead people to be buried, I’d be surprised if La Gioconde’s bones aren’t in an ossuary somewhere, the less durable parts having gone to dust many centuries ago.

    What a shame that the Italians haven’t been a bit more respectful of their historic dead. If they do locate the remains, which seems like looking for a needle in a haystack, it will be interesting to see what uses of modern science do with them.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Dog Gone wrote: I’d be surprised if La Gioconda’s bones aren’t in an ossuary somewhere ….

    They make a distinction between “graves” and “tombs.” Tombs would be the long-term repositories for bones.

    If they do locate the remains … it will be interesting to see what uses of modern science do with them.

    Italian researchers reconstructed the faces of poet Dante Aligheri. It’s presumed that they will do the same for La Gioconda.

    What a shame that the Italians haven’t been a bit more respectful of their historic dead.

    They seem to be somewhat embarrassed about this particular case, but they have their priorities. Don’t forget, they were developing downtown parking in Florence. What could be more precious than downtown parking?

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