The Eyes Have It
No, it's not a photograph, but it is a very famous image. An image whose model has always been a mystery. And you know how we love a mystery. And the mystery is being solved with high-resolution images. Even better.
Well, it seems Da Vinci has done it again. A recently discovered code. A code that may reveal the identity of the enigmatic model know as the Mona Lisa. A code left for us to find by Da Vinci.
An Italian researcher claims that Leonardo da Vinci painted tiny letters into the eyes of the Mona Lisa. Letters which could reveal, once and for all, the identity of the woman who modeled for this famous portrait.
Using high resolution images, researcher, Silvano Vinceti, chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, stood eye to eye with the Mona Lisa.
"Invisible to the naked eye and painted in black on green-brown are the letters LV in her right pupil, obviously Leonardo's initials, but it is what is in her left pupil that is far more interesting," said Vinceti.
He has announced that the letters B or S, or possibly the initials CE, were discernible. A vital clue? The model has often been identified as Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant. Vinceti disagreed, claiming Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa in Milan, not Florence.
In true cliff-hanger style, Vinceti will announce his conclusions next month.
"On the back of the painting are the numbers '149', with a fourth number erased, suggesting he painted it when he was in Milan in the 1490s, using as a model a woman from the court of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan," said Vinceti."Leonardo was keen on symbols and codes to get messages across, and he wanted us to know the identity of the model using the eyes, which he believed were the door to the soul and a means for communication," said Vinceti.
He said that while researching the model's identity he had been inspired by a 1960s book by a French art historian, which mentions the letters in her eyes.
"Under the right-hand arch of the bridge seen in the background, Leonardo also painted 72, or L2, another possible clue," he added. "Two expert painters consulted by The Guardian, UK, say all these marks, painted using a tiny brush and a magnifying glass, cannot be an error."
The Guardian UK Online, December, 2010.
Courtesy of WikiCommons.