Well Mona Lisa is hardly likely to be able to stand up but there has been a flurry of activity in Florence as on the 9th August researchers opened up the tomb, after 300years, of her husband and children housed in the church of Piazza SS Annunziata.They are hoping that DNA testing on the skeletons will match those of two skeletons unearthed in the convent of St Ursula last year.
Their task is not made any easier as only one of the children was actually Lisa’s as her merchant husband – Francesco del Giocondo had been married previously and already had another son. Still Lisa does have a certain solidness about her and in fact she did outlive them all and joined the nuns in the convent of St Ursula, a rather insignificant looking building just behind the Central food market and the busy San Lorenzo leather market.
She had married at 16, he was 38, and it is thought he commissioned Leonardo to do the portrait to mark his wife’s pregnancy or recent birth of their son. Awful theories suggest that her enigmatic smile may however be because she had no front teeth or that they had gone black from mercury used as treatment for syphilis. Heaven forbid!
Any guide will tell you that the masterpiece was painted in the building next to the Palazzo Vecchio – town hall. And that the bridge across the Arno that features in the background is not that far from my place towards Arezzo.
Results of the DNA tests are expected late September.
Will keep you posted!