Whatever happened to R.I.P.?

Researchers, led by art historian Silvano Vinceti, are proposing to try and identify the woman who sat for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa by digging up the remains of Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini.

Vinceti believes that by locating the remains of Lisa Gherardini, he can prove whether or not she was the artist’s model. A recently discovered death certificate suggests she died in 1542 and is buried in a convent in Florence and excavation work will begin at Saint Orsola later this month.

The mystery behind the Mona Lisa and her smile has baffled and obsessed art experts for five-hundred years and Vicenti says that his research will ‘put an end to a centuries-old dispute and also understand Leonardo’s relations to his models’.

Vinceti hopes to extract DNA from the skull of Gherardini, the wife of a rich silk merchant, and rebuild her face. However, there are those who doubt whether analysing centuries-old bones can be conclusive.

Vinceti has been studying the Mona Lisa for months and claims to have found symbols hidden in the painting. He also believes that Gherardini might have been an early model for the painting, but that da Vinci might also have been influenced by the face of his young male apprentice and lover.

Is it really that important? Can people not be left to ‘rest in peace’?

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