DNA Tests Begin in Quest for the Real Mona Lisa

Bones unearthed in Florence could belong to painting's model
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2014 10:41 AM CST
DNA Tests Begin in Quest for the Real Mona Lisa
An art expert is trying to determine whether remains belong to the model for the Mona Lisa.   (Shutterstock)

A three-year quest that has put researchers on a path toward what they hope is the "real" face of the Mona Lisa winds closer to its conclusion: Silvano Vinceti says DNA tests have begun on a skeleton his team unearthed in July 2012 in Florence, in an effort to figure out whether it belongs to the painting's purported model, Lisa Gherardini. If it does (a determination that will make use of DNA from the bones of Gherardini’s relatives), he'll create a computer-generated image of her face—one that may or may not be identical to the painting.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Vinceti made waves in 2011 by floating the theory that a male model sat for Leonardo da Vinci during the painting process. If any generated likeness is not a true match, it could indicate that da Vinci used multiple models, perhaps for a specific reason. Vinceti says the test results should be ready by May or June. "If we don’t find her, art historians can continue to speculate about who the model really was," he tells the Journal. The painting currently resides in the Louvre, but two years ago, Vinceti launched a push to bring it back to Italy. One apparent supporter of the move: George Clooney, the Telegraph reports. (Read more DNA test stories.)

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