Purveyor of Knowledge and Emerging Publisher of Content and Visually Driven Books
April 14, 2024

A New Theory for "Mona Lisa"

February 2011-- For centuries, people have been speculating about who modeled for Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." Was it Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant? Was it Isabella of Aragon? Was it the artist himself, as some experts believe? Or was it, as new research suggests, none of the above?

An Italian art historian, Silvano Vinceti, believes the model for the "Mona Lisa" was a man named Gian Giacomo Caprotti, better known as Salai, a male apprentice (and possible lover) of da Vinci.

At a press conference in Rome on Wednesday, Vinceti explained his theory. "Salai was a favorite model for Leonardo," Vinceti said. "Leonardo certainly inserted characteristics of Salai in the last version of the 'Mona Lisa.'" Vinceti pointed out the similarities between the noses and mouths as examples.

Following the press conference, Web searches on "da vinci salai" and "gian giacomo caprotti" both soared.

Earlier this year, Vinceti remarked that he discovered some objects in the eyes of the "Mona Lisa." He says he has found the letter "S" in the woman's left eye, the letter "L" in her right eye, and the number "72" under the bridge in the background. The images are not visible to the naked eye. Scientific equipment was used.

Vinceti doesn't necessarily believe that Salai was the only inspiration for the world's most famous painting. At the press conference, the historian said, "the 'Mona Lisa' must be read at various levels, not just as a portrait." In other words, according to Vinceti, there were likely multiple inspirations for the painting.

Not everyone agrees with Vinceti's opinions. In an interview with the AP, Marani, an art professor at Milan's Politecnico University, called Vinceti's theory "groundless." He further remarked, "The work ('Mona Lisa') began as the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, but over the years in Leonardo's hands it slowly turned into something else: an idealized portrait, not a specific one."

This isn't the first time an art expert has linked Salai to one of da Vinci's works. Vinceti believes other works, including "St. John the Baptist," were also based on Salai. Others have floated the "Mona Lisa" theory as well.