People have long been baffled by the mystery of Mona Lisa’s smile and the identity of the model herself. Throughout the years art historians, conspiracy theorists, aspiring conspiracy theorists and writers have all speculated on who this mysterious woman was. Who did the famous Leonardo da Vinci paint?
One of my favorite speculations of all time has to be the one which suggested that the Mona Lisa was actually a self-portrait of the famous painter himself! In my opinion, it is the oddest and most interesting what-if of all. Da Vinci was known to be quite an eccentric, like so many geniuses are. In my mind, I thought that the Mona Lisa could hold the key to how deep his eccentricities were and who the artist really was.
But as it turns out, the Mona Lisa is not Da Vinci. Nor is it a portrait of his mother. According to a report from the German Reuters, it is actually the painting of one Lisa Gherardini, wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant. Back in the day, having yourself painted was one of the greatest forms of luxury you could ever express. And we all know how wealthy merchants are.
It is thanks to German academicians and Dr. Armin Schlechter that this case is pretty much closed. Dr. Schlechter, a manuscript expert, discovered notes and documents linking the Lisa Gherardini to the painting around two years ago in Heidelberg University. These notes were written by Agostino Vespucci, Florentine city official and acquaintance of Da Vinci. These notes contained comments about three paintings Da Vinci had been working on then. And there it was revealed that one of the paintings was a portrait of a woman. Lisa del Giocondo. Also known as Lisa Gherardini.