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Experts searching for real Mona Lisa
Sun, 01 May 2011 15:36:39 GMT
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'Mona Lisa' by Leonardo da Vinci
Researchers have started searching for the remains of the woman who modeled for Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci in creating his masterpiece Mona Lisa.

Experts are using a special radar device to look for the Renaissance model in the ruins of the Saint Orsola convent in Florence where they believe the body of the woman was buried.

Italian art historians say the model was Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a rich Florentine silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo who is believed by some to have commissioned the portrait.

"We have a document confirming the burial of Gherardini in 1542 here in the convent" Reuters quoted head of Italy's National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage Silvano Vinceti as saying.

Researchers say Gherardini spent the final years of her life at the convent and then buried by her two daughters who were nuns and looked after her.

"To be sure we have to find the DNA in her bones, and once we have found that we can compare it with the DNA of her children who are buried at the Santissima Annunziata convent," said paleoanthropologist Professor Francesco Mallegni.

Researchers say they will be able to reconstruct the face of the model if they can find her skull.

According to the Louvre museum in Paris, where the painting is housed, the portrait was painted in Florence between 1503 and 1506 and could have been commissioned to mark two possible occasions; Gherardini's new house or the birth of their second son.

Vinceti who is famous for his extensive studies on da Vinci's masterpiece says Gherardini might have been an early model for the painting, but the Italian artist was also probably inspired by the face of his young male apprentice, Gian Giacomo Caprotti.

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