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Silvano Vinceti announcing his latest Mona Lisa project in Italy PA Images/ Andrew Medichini
mona lisa

Human remains to be exhumed to recreate Mona Lisa smile

Controversial art historian says he believes he can reconstruct Da Vinci model’s face… as long as he can find her bones at all.

AN ITALIAN ART researcher has said he will exhume the remains of the woman who many believe to be the inspiration for the Mona Lisa in order to reconstruct her face.

Silvano Vinceti, who CBC news describes as a “self-styled historian, researcher and broadcaster”, announced his intentions today. He will take a team of researchers to the Convent of St Ursula in Florence to investigate the remains of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a rich patron of Leonardo da Vinci.

Art historians have long suggested that she could be the model for the enigmatic Mona Lisa. Her husband’s name was Francesco del Giocondo and the Mona Lisa is known in Italian as La Gioconda. Da Vinci is known to have painted a portrait of Lisa Gherardini at some point.

It won’t be an easy task. Vinceti’s team don’t know for sure where Lisa Gherardini is buried. They will use radar to search for tombs under the floor of the convent and then, if they find human remains, will try to identify bones that match a woman of her age. Then extensive carbon dating and DNA tests will have to be carried out on those remains to establish if they match those of Gherdini’s children, which are interred in a basilica in the city.

According to The Telegraph’s man in Milan, Nick Squires, the remains may not even be there as an expert of da Vinci says her bones were probably dumped in a rubbish site years ago when the convent was converted into a police barracks.

It is worth noting that Vinceti is the same historian who theorised earlier this year that the Mona Lisa was a portrait of a male apprentice and possible love of Leonardo da Vinci.

The New York Times’s Art Beat also notes that Vinceti has previously claimed to have dug up the bones of the artist Caravaggio and the poet Dante.