This week, historical experts believe they have found the tomb of Leonardo’s model – buried under the alter of a convent in Florence, Italy. Archaeologists and art detective Silvano Vinceti exhumed several skeletons stacked on top of each other under the chapel. Carbon dating has been completed and indicates the skeleton is from the time period when Leonardo painted the masterpiece.
The discovery of Mona Lisa’s skeleton under a convent chapel should not be too surprising. Gherardini is believed to have moved to Florence in the late 1500’s to live with her daughter, a nun.
According to the experts, the odds that the bones belong to Mona Lisa “are extremely high”. Unfortunately, the remains are fragmented and scattered and there is no skull.
The Mona Lisa painting was believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506 in Florence, Italy and is acclaimed as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”.
The painting’s fame increased greatly when it was stolen on 21 August 1911. The day after the masterpiece was taken, Louis Béroud, a painter, walked into the Louvre and went to the Salon Carré where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years. However, where the Mona Lisa should have stood, he found four iron pegs. Béroud contacted the section head of the guards, who thought the painting was being photographed for marketing purposes. A few hours later, Béroud checked back with the section head of the museum, and it was confirmed that the Mona Lisa was not with the photographers.
The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid in the investigation of the theft. French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be “burnt down”, came under suspicion; he was arrested and imprisoned. Apollinaire tried to implicate his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated. At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it was two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia had stolen it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet, and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed.