It is an enigma that has lasted for centuries, the one that surrounds the Gioconda from Leonardo da Vinci. The painting, made in the early sixteenth century on a small poplar wood panel, is probably the most famous portrait in the history of world art.
The mystery that wraps around the Mona Lisa is an integral part of the work’s inestimable charm, and for centuries it has attracted the attention of experts and scholars – looking for new clues that finally reveal where the masterpiece was painted and under what circumstances, but above all who was the woman portrayed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Who is Leonardo’s Mona Lisa
Thousands of pages have been written about the identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The woman was soon identified as Lisa Gherardininoblewoman wife of Francesco del Giocondo, thanks to the authoritative notes of Vasariwhich in a sixteenth-century document indicated the wife of the Florentine noble in the Mona Lisa.
The same notes, however, also speak of eyebrows wonderfully painted and dimples on the cheeks, which are not on the face of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Experts agree on one thing: Leonardo da Vinci worked on the painting for years, making several changes over time, so Vasari may have seen a “First version” of the Mona Lisadifferent from that known to the general public.
Indeed, in 2014 the scientist Pascal Cotte he announced that he had identified, thanks to investigations carried out with a high-resolution multispectral camera, the portrait of another woman hidden under the face of the Mona Lisa.
The discovery seems to confirm both the scholar’s theory Silvano Vinceti for which there would be a first version of the Mona Lisa, “younger and with a melancholy smile”, both the hypothesis of the researcher Carla Goriwho formulated a complex and well-documented theory on the Mona Lisa, which starts precisely from the identification of the woman portrayed by Leonardo.
Was the Gioconda a Sforza?
According to the scholar, who has published dozens of essays on the work of Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa is Bianca Giovanna Sforza, the beloved daughter of Ludovico il Moro died at a very young age a few months after the wedding that united her to Galeazzo Sanseverino, patron and dear friend of Leonardo da Vinci.
The portrait, according to the researcher, would have been a Wedding present for Ludovico il Moro – never delivered to the client due to the sudden death of the young woman, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances when she was not yet fifteen.
When then the Sforza were expelled from Milan, Leonardo was forced to modify the painting to hide the identity of the young woman, heir to a duchy now banned from French domination. The “youngest and most beautiful” woman who has been identified under the Mona Lisa would be Bianca Giovanna Sforza.
According to Carla Gori’s theory, the Mona Lisa is Milanese, and the hills and the bridge that form the background of the portrait are those of Bobbio: not only because after her marriage to Sanseverino the young Sforza was the lady of Bobbio, Voghera and Castel San Giovanni, but also because there are important clues in the painting itself, recently confirmed by a paleontological research which highlights the presence of Leonardo in those places at the time when the portrait was painted.
Another research supporting the theory is that of the scholar Teodoro Brescia, already known for having revealed several unpublished details in Leonardo’s Last Supper. According to Brescia, Leonardo inserted one of his famous rebus inside the Mona Lisa: from the (mirrored) initials shown in the eyes of the Mona Lisait can be concluded that the woman is Bianca Giovanna Sforza.
Milan, the embroideries and the destiny of Mona Lisa
The link between Leonardo da Vinci and the patron Galeazzo Sanseverino is well documented, as is the fact that Leonardo knew the daughter of Ludovico il Moro, the lady of Voghera.
In the essay “Identikit of a Sforza: the Vincentian knots in the embroidery of the Mona Lisa”, Gori explores the question of Milanese origins of the Mona Lisa starting from the embroidery on the neckline of the Mona Lisa dress.
“The design of the embroidery on the neckline della Gioconda “, reads the essay,” is inspired by the fashion of the “win”, launched by Beatrice d’Este in 1493, and which is closely connected to the cultural-artistic climate of Sforza court in the period 1493/99during Leonardo’s first stay in Milan ”.
Moreover, as Gori explains in another research work – “La Gioconda: the localization of the landscape, the Milanese fashion of the winners, the parallel with the Belle Ferronnière” – the processing on the edge of the Mona Lisa parapet is very similar to what is he sees precisely on the Leonardesque portrait of the Belle Ferronnièrethe last lover of the Moor, as well as the type of nuance created by Leonardo on the two portraits, painted a few years apart.
“Leonardo kept that portrait with him until his death, making it entirely and profoundly his work”, we read in another essay by Gori, “and in the course of that reworking it is intervened over a long period of time on the initial project “.
The Mona Lisa, never delivered to the Moro due to the tragic death of the young Bianca, came Subsequently “aged” by Leonardoto the point of losing the appearance of a woman and becoming the enigmatic and immortal testament of the genius of the Renaissance.
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