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'Mona Lisa smile' eludes tomb searchers

Silvano Vinceti announcing his previous theory, 2011


Mona Lisa's smile in the famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci has captured the hearts and imagination and hearts of thousands, and the speculations of even more: Why is she smiling? Who is she? Could it be a self-portrait? and more.


Now a team of Italian researchers, apparently obsessed with the painting and the woman behind it, has declared—on very slim evidence—that it has found fragments of bone of the woman most often thought to be the model.


However, they are so small and in such poor condition no real answer is possible, despite the team's announcement that "a coming together of elements, from anthropological exams to historic documents, which allow us to conclude that the remains probably belong to Lisa Gherardini."


Ghererdini, was born in 1479, and was the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a silk merchant who is believed to have commissioned the portrait. She lived her last years in a convent in Florence where she died, and where she was likely buried, in 1542.


A research team has spent parts of the past five years exhuming skeletons at the convent, rejecting the first batch as too old, but then finding fragments of four skeletons in a tomb used up to 1545. The team, led by art historian Silvano Vinceti, decided that three bones, including a femur, were Gherardini's, but they are too damaged to yield DNA, and don't include what they most sought: a skull on which they could model a face to see if it matched the one Leonardo painted.


Perhaps the new claim should be taken with several grains of salt; This is, after all, the same Silvano Vinceti who, in 2011, announced with great certainty that the model for the painting was not a woman at all, but a male apprentice and possible lover of Da Vinci's, Gian Diacomo Caprotti. So the mystery remains, for all but those who have faith in their conclusions! For more, click HERE

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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