Monday, February 7, 2011

Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" or "Mon Salai"?

           Mona Lisa                     Salai as John the Baptist

By Peter Mikelbank

No wonder she's smiling.

Having claimed in December he would soon disclose the 500-year mystery of who had served as the model for Leonardo da Vinci's enigmatic Mona Lisa, researcher Silvano Vinceti made his findings known at a press conference in Rome Wednesday: she is actually a he.

Specifically, Vinceti says, the painting is of da Vinci's long-term young male assistant, who was called Salai (real name, Gian Giacomo Caprotti) and who allegedly owned the prized portrait when he died in 1525.

Vinceti, who heads Italy's national Historic Properties Evaluation Commission, called the relationship between the two men "ambiguous" but suggested they were lovers. The researcher also claims the painter left clues in the eyes of the Mona Lisa, linking himself with Salai.

Leonardo's painting of St. John the Baptist and a drawing called "Angel Incarnate" were also based on Salai, who "was a favorite model for Leonardo," Vinceti told a group of foreign journalists. These works, portraying a slender youth with long dark curls, bear striking similarity to the nose and mouth of the Mona Lisa, he claims.

"Leonardo certainly inserted characteristics of Salai in the last version of the Mona Lisa," said Vinceti.

Mikelbank's article continues here


Mona Lisa or Mon Salai (
Da Vinci Decoded?  Mona Lisa Identity Solved! (
Leonard da Vinci's Mona Lisa?  She Is Based on a He (


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