Is the Mona Lisa a Self-Portrait?

Jan 25, 2010 by Lisa Zyga weblog
Italian scientists hope to dig up the remains of Leonardo da Vinci in order to determine if his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, is a disguised self-portrait.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Italian scientists hope to dig up the remains of Leonardo da Vinci in order to determine if his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, is a disguised self-portrait.

“If we manage to find his skull, we could rebuild Leonardo’s face and compare it with the ,” said Giorgio Gruppioni, who is part of a team from Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage, a leading association of scientists and art , which is undertaking the investigation.

Da Vinci, who died in 1519 at age 67, was originally buried in the Chateau Amboise in France's Loire Valley, which was destroyed after the French Revolution in 1789. It is believed that his remains were reburied in the castle’s smaller chapel of Saint-Hubert in 1874. An inscription above the tomb says they are “presumed” to be those of da Vinci.

Traditionally, the individual in the painting is thought to have been Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of wealthy Florentine silk merchant. However, speculation surrounds the true identity of the individual, with several other women (including da Vinci’s mother) being candidates.

More recently, artist Lillian Schwartz has used computer programs to identify similarities between the features of the Mona Lisa and those of one of da Vinci’s true self-portraits. Some scholars suggest that da Vinci’s presumed homosexuality and love of riddles inspired him to paint himself as a woman.

If granted permission, the Italian researchers plan to verify that the remains in Saint-Hubert are da Vinci’s by using carbon dating and comparing DNA samples from the bones and teeth with those of several male descendents buried in Bologna, Italy.

Bone tests could also reveal how da Vinci died, which is currently unknown. Diseases such as tuberculosis and syphilis, as well as lead poisoning, would appear in the bones. The researchers noted that syphilis was seen as a form of plague at the time, killing about 20 million people in the first quarter of the 16th century.

The Italian researchers are currently seeking permission from French cultural officials and the owners of the chateau, who have agreed in principle. Despite criticism from some scholars who believe that the remains should be left alone, the scientists hope to receive formal permission this summer.

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More information: via: Times Online

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User comments : 13

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Kludge
3 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2010
Yes I'm sure the art community will be happy with that :)

Still however it would be interesting to know if da Vinci was even more complex and analytical than any of us thought.
po6ert
3 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2010
20 million is a complete ridiculous number. the black plague yes. syphilis no. as a sexually transmitted disease the spread was messured in decades and seems to have started in Spain and traveled from there in stages
scidog
4 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2010
it's the lady who stepped out of the time machine and gave him all his ideas,you can tell by the smirk on her face that she took back a "dna sample".
well it's just as good idea as some of the odd ball ones going around.
PS3
2 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2010
I never got what is so great about this painting. Many other arts blow this away.
Doug_Huffman
3 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2010
Like the democratization of science, the democratization of art descends even to 'PlayStation3'. Dood, its like you not understanding what is so great about Oriental cuisine that a billion people enjoy. Maybe you don't like 'Chinese' and maybe you shouldn't criticize art.
TheBigYin
3.5 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2010
If you ever visit the Louvre, you get swept along the corridors by the crowds heading just to see this painting, then they all head back out again. The seem oblivious to the much more amazing works of rennaissance art they have ignored on the way.
axemaster
4.3 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2010
"More recently, artist Lillian Schwartz has used computer programs to identify similarities between the features of the Mona Lisa and those of one of da Vinci’s true self-portraits. Some scholars suggest that da Vinci’s presumed homosexuality and love of riddles inspired him to paint himself as a woman."

Yes, the computer program says so... however da Vinci didn't morph his face with a computer, so the best way to tell if they are the same would be to LOOK AT THEM.

They're really stretching hard to find something interesting here, to the point where it seems pretty laughable.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2010
20 million is a complete ridiculous number. the black plague yes. syphilis no. as a sexually transmitted disease the spread was messured in decades and seems to have started in Spain and traveled from there in stages


With how widespread the practice of prostitution and the relative ignorance of medicine at the time, 20 million is a fairly low estimate. The world population was in the billions at that time, 20 million over 25 years is not incredible.
carolinecocciardi
1 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2010
In my new documentary "Mona Lisa Revealed" based on engineer Pascal Cotte's camera invention that photographed the real "Mona Lisa" at 240 million pixels- the infrared clearly shows she was a WOMAN there is no hidden image of Leonardo in drag.

Is it so hard to believe that the world's greatest artist wanted to paint a real woman? Breathe it's okay.

Check out my documentary www.monalisarevealed.com
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2010
Seeing as DaVinci was an avid anatomy buff and performed some of the first "medical" autopsies I'm fairly sure that if he were painting himself as a woman, he would indeed paint himself as a woman, not as a man in drag.
baudrunner
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
A fairly reliable psychoanalysis of Leonardo DaVinci can be done based on his lifestyle and character. He once said, "art is never finished, only abandoned". He was a notorious procrastinator. He also once remarked, "the act of procreation and everything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions." He was in all likelihood not a homosexual but might very well have had Asperger's syndrome, which would preclude any ability for him to sustain a long-term relationship. He was a man living on another level, and should not be judged in the context of ordinary human beings.

It's silly to suggest that the Mona Lisa is a self portrait. An argument can be made for the woman in the painting being a portrait of Caterina Sforza. An uncanny resemblance can be seen in a portrait of her by Lorenzo di Credi, a contemporary. Leonardo's work is clearly superior.
cariadxx
1 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2010
It's rather disappointing when supposedly intelligent people aren't aware that the man's name was Leonardo, and "da Vinci" merely means he was born in a town called Vinci... it is NOT his surname! Referring to "Leonardo da Vinci" as "da Vinci" is like referring to "Kate from New York" as "From New York"! Please stop referring to him as "da Vinci"; it just makes you sound stupid and uneducated.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Feb 08, 2010
Please stop referring to him as "da Vinci"; it just makes you sound stupid and uneducated.


Are you braindead? Of course da Vinci means from Vinci. As an aside, that WAS the surname of those who were not born into money. If you were born into money you owned a town or a large enough villa that it could be considered a named place.

For example, de Patsi where from the villa Patsi. da Vinci was from the villa Vinci. de Medici were from the villa Medici.

The italian family names from those villas are still the surnames of millions of people. Before you attempt to state that someone is ignorant, perhaps you should have some understanding of why things are the way they are.