April 6, 2011

Remains Of Mona Lisa Model To Be Unearthed

Researchers are digging up the remains of an Italian noblewoman who they believe could be the model who sat for Leonardo da Vinci's infamous Mona Lisa masterpiece.

Art historian Silvano Vinceti believes that by locating the remains of Lisa Gherardini, he will be able to prove whether or not she was the artists' model.

According to a death certificate, Gherardini died in 1542 and is interred in a convent in Florence.

The excavation will begin at Saint Orsola later this month.

Art experts have been baffled for five-hundred years over the mystery behind the Mona Lisa and her smile.

"We can put an end to a centuries-old dispute and also understand Leonardo's relations to his models," Vinceti told the Associated Press news agency.

"To him, painting also meant giving a physical representation to the inner traits of their personalities."

Vinceti said that by using scientific techniques he will extract DNA from the skull of Gherardini and rebuild her face.

His group has already reconstructed the faces of some artists on the basis of their skulls.

The group said last June that it had identified the bones of Italian Renaissance artist Caravaggio and discovered a possible cause of his mysterious death.

However, some doubt whether analyzing centuries-old bones can be conclusive.

Vinceti studied the artwork for months and claims to have found symbols hidden in the painting, which is kept at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

He said that Gherardini might have been an early model for the painting, but da Vinci might have been influenced by the face of his young male apprentice and lover.

However, some doubt the project before it has even started.

Giuseppe Pallanti, an authority on da Vinci, said last year that Gherardini's remains were most likely dug up 30 years ago when work was carried out to convert the former convent into a police barracks.