[ 2006-09-27 11:05 ]
Mona Lisa, the mysterious woman immortalized in Leonardo da Vinci's
16th century masterpiece, had just given birth to her second son when she
sat for the painting, a French art expert said on Tuesday.
The discovery was made by a team of Canadian scientists who used
special infrared and
three-dimensional technology to peer through hitherto impenetrable paint
layers on the work, which now sits in the Louvre museum in Paris.
Bruno Mottin of the French Museums' Center for Research and Restoration
said that on very close examination of the painting it became clear that
the Mona Lisa's dress was covered in a thin transparent gauze veil.
"This type of gauze dress ... was typical of the kind worn in early
16th century Italy by women who were pregnant or who had just given birth.
This is something that had never been seen up to now because the painting
was always judged to be dark and difficult to examine," he told a news
"We can now say that this painting by Leonardo da Vinci was painted to
commemorate the birth of the second son of the Mona Lisa, which helps us
to date it more precisely to around 1503."
The young woman with the ambiguous half smile has been identified as
Lisa Gherardini, wife of Florentine merchant Francesco de Giocondo. She
had five children.
Mottin also said that, contrary to popular belief, the subject had not
let her hair hang freely but in fact wore a bonnet from which only a few
curls managed to escape.
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hang : to let