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Vespucci Notes Hold Key to Identity of Mona Lisa
The most recognized painting in the world, with her enigmatic smile, Mona Lisa’s true identity may finally be revealed due to the discovery of notes written in the margin of a book in the Heidelberg University Library in Germany.
Much of the mystique of the "Mona Lisa" is her dubious identity being the center of much debate.
What we do know is that this portrait was painted between 1502 and 1507, measures 21" X 30" and was sold to King Francis I of France.
The title, "Mona Lisa" never appeared in any of Leonardo’s writings but was named by his biographer Giorgio Vasari some 30 years (give or take 20 years) after it was painted. In fact, Vasari never actually saw the painting, but in his writings, "Lives of the Artists," he spoke with men who had actually known Leonardo, so it is the best biographical information we had until 2008.
To some, however, Vasari was thought of as an amateur art historian.
In 2008 two scholars from the University of Heidelberg, Germany claimed a hand written note found in the margin of a 15th century book with writings from Cicero, a Roman politician, proved the true identity of the "Mona Lisa."
Agostino Vespucci, the owner of the book at the time of the notes (1503), was a magistrate who lived in Florence at the same time as Leonardo. In the book, Cicero speaks about Greek art and the painter Apelles, describing his working methods.
Cicero compares Leonardo to Apelles, mentioning that Leonardo was working on three paintings, one of which was the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo.
Next to the line, in the margin, Vespucci wrote, "Apelles, a painter. This is how Leonardius Vincius makes it in all of his pictures. Amongst them the head of Lisa del Giocondo."
From all known accounts, Lisa del Giocondo was the wife of a wealthy Florence merchant, Franchesco del Giocondo.
However, not all art historians are convinced that this is the true identity of the "Mona Lisa" as Leonardo was working on other portraits at the same time.
Perhaps the mystery will always remain and one can only imagine the other possibilities: is the identity of the sitter Leonardo himself, his adopted son, his assistant Andrea Salai, Mary Magdalene, Isabella d’Este, Caterina Sforza, or Isabella d’Aragon?
You be the judge. As for my opinion, I have seen the lady herself at the Louvre, and despite her age and environmental damage, she is more amazing in person than in text books, and a true masterpiece.
You can own a copy of the book, "Mona Lisa Reimagined" by Eric Maell available
here from Amazon.com.
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