Digging up Mona Lisa

This is a little weird. In order to determine once and for all the identity of the model for the Mona Lisa, an art historian in Italy is going to dig up the remains of a woman who died almost 500 years ago.

Lisa Gherardini was the wife of a wealthy silk merchant. She died in 1542—her death certificate was recently discovered—and now they believe her remains are interred at a convent in Florence. I guess a lot of people think she might have been the model for Da Vinci’s famous painting.

I, like many people, am curious about the identity of the Mona Lisa, but I’m not sure we should be digging up 500-year-old ladies to find out. The art historian, Silvano Vinceti, will be exhuming Lisa Gherardini’s remains, extracting DNA from her skull, and then using it to “rebuild her face.” From there he hopes to confirm that this noblewoman was the model for the Mona Lisa.

I don’t know, I think I’d rather keep it a mystery. The Mona Lisa, of course, is on display at the Louvre in Paris. I’ve seen it. It’s very cool. It’s one of those things that, when you look at it, really does seem to give off some kind of mysterious power. I think some of that magic might be lost if we confirm that it's Lisa from 1542 based on a rebuilt face modeled on DNA extracted from her skull.

Photo: caribb via Flickr (CC)

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