Friday, January 19, 2007

Mona Lisa

'Mona Lisa' died in 1542, was buried in convent

ROME (AFP) - An expert on the "Mona Lisa" says he has ascertained with certainty that the symbol of feminine mystique died on July 15, 1542, and was buried at the convent in central Florence where she spent her final days.

Giuseppe Pallanti found a death notice in the archives of a church in Florence that referred to "the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, deceased July 15, 1542, and buried at Sant'Orsola," the Italian press reported Friday.

Born Lisa Gherardini in May 1479, she is thought to have been the second wife of Del Giocondo, a wealthy silk merchant, with whom she had five children.

While intrigue has surrounded the identity of the woman in the famous unsigned, undated Leonardo da Vinci painting housed at the Louvre in Paris, Lisa Gherardini is widely accepted to have been the subject.

Sant'Orsola, where she died at age 63, now disused and in ruins, is near the San Lorenzo basilica.

"It was in this convent that Mona Lisa placed her youngest daughter Marietta, who later became a nun. And it was there that Lisa, as stipulated in the will of her husband who died four years before her, ended her life," Pallanti told the daily La Repubblica on Friday.

Pallanti, author of "Mona Lisa Revealed: The True Identity of Leonardo's Model," has spent nearly three decades combing Florence's archives.

Another researcher, Da Vinci expert Carlo Pedretti, praised Pallanti for the discovery and urged a search at the site for Lisa Gherardini's remains.

"Thanks to modern techniques, scientists can determine her physical aspect, maybe even her face and thereby make an important contribution" to establishing her identity, he told the ANSA news agency.

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