Mr. Mona Lisa: Did a Male Model Inspire Da Vinci?

  • Share
  • Read Later

Jean-Pierre Muller / AFP / Getty

Italian researchers believe they’ve solved the mystery of the Mona Lisa model … the she, was a he.

A team of researchers from the Italian national committee for cultural heritage are claiming that Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, the most famous painting in the world, was inspired by the artist’s male apprentice Salai. The pair are said to have had an “ambiguous” relationship and were probably lovers said Silvano Vincenti, chairman of the committee.

The effeminate young artist, whose real name was Gian Giacomo Caprotti, is thought to have served as a muse for other Da Vinci masterpieces, like “St.John the Baptist” and the “Angel Incarnate”. Comparisons between the characters in these works, and the characteristics of the Mona Lisa reveal striking similarities.

(LIST: The Top 10 Brazen Heists?)

As well as looking like Salai, the Mona Lisa gives even more clues to his influence, says Vincenti. “Close examination of a high-quality digital copy of the portrait had revealed an L for Leonardo and an S for Salai.” A romantic gesture?

But the boat-rocking claims have been disputed by the Louvre in Paris, where the piece is on display. The museum said that every possible test has been done on the painting and insisted that “no inscriptions, letter or numbers, were discovered during these tests.” They added that Vincenti had made his fantastical claims without having had access to the painting itself.

Vincenti’s team is well known for solving mysteries of the art world and he has humbly offered their services to the Louvre to help clear up any doubt. “They’re really blind … I can understand their incredulity and amazement – after all this must be the most studied picture on earth,” but “they have to be serious and accept that they didn’t see what was right in front of their eyes.”

“We’re ready to go to Paris and extract a tiny bit of paint from the numbers and see whether they match the rest of the painting” he said. We’re yet to see whether the famous Parisian museum will take him up on his kind offer.

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes Photos of the Louvre