DNA Test To Find Identity Of Mona Lisa Model

Thu, 08/08/2013 - 06:52
The identity of the woman who sat for Leonardo da Vinci’s 'Mona Lisa' may be revealed soon thanks to DNA testing. The family tomb of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo in the Martyrs’ Crypt behind the altar in Florence’s Santissima Annunziata church houses the remains of Gherardini’s husband, merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo, and their two sons. On 8 August, it will be opened for the first time in 300 years so that scientists can compare the DNA of Lisa Gherardini’s sons to that of a skeleton found in the basement of a former Ursuline convent in Florence in July 2012. Scientists will use DNA testing to find out whether the remains of a female skeleton exhumed during an archaeological dig at the convent belong to the woman who sat for the portrait. Silvano Vinceti, who is in charge of the National Committee for the valuation of historic, cultural and environmental assets, said: “We are carrying out Carbon-14 tests on three of the eight skeletons found in the St. Ursula complex compatible with the time when Lisa Gherardini died. The Carbon-14 test will tell us which of the three dates to the 1500s. Only then will we know which skeleton to do the final DNA test on.” In 2007, researcher Giuseppe Pallanti published a book arguing that the Ursuline convent must be Gherardini’s resting place because she is thought to have joined the convent in old age after her husband died. She is believed to have died at the convent on 15 July 1542 at the age of 63. Her husband’s surname was Del Giocondo, and the Italian name for the 'Mona Lisa' is ‘La Gioconda’. Pallanti told Italian news agency ANSA: “It was her, Lisa, the wife of the merchant Francesco del Giocondo – and she lived right opposite Leonardo in Via Ghibellina.”