Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo

ein hodHeidelberg University library confirmed last Friday a German radio report that its researchers had discovered the true identity of the model in the famous 16th century portrait. She was Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, Franceso del Giocondo.
The director of the university library, Veit Probst, said the mystery was unravelled after a book was found in the library archive that once belonged to a friend of da Vinci. In October of 1503 the Florentine official Agostino Vespuccui wrote a note in the margins of one page, saying that his friend was working on three paintings, one of them a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo. The note, scribbled into a collection of letters by the Roman orator Cicero, compares the Florentine painter and sculptor to the ancient Greek artist Apelles.
The fact that the painting has long been known as "La Gioconda" would seem to support the Heidelberg academic's theory. In 1550, art historian Giorgio Vasari had already linked her name with the painting, which hangs in the Louvre in Paris. However, there were doubts about his reliability, particularly as he was writing 50 years after it was painted. Theories about her true identity have flourished, ranging from it being a self-portrait in drag, to a picture of da Vinci's mother or even his lover.(read more>>)

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