Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The world’s most famous smile

The world’s most famous smile
Even among the incredible works of Leonardo da Vinci, one painting stands out as truly iconic. Smaller than many people expect when they clasp eyes on her for the very first time in Paris’ Louvre gallery, the Mona Lisa captivates from first glance. 
Strangely, for one of the world’s most famous portraits, little is known about the woman on the canvas. Back in the day, portraits were mostly only made of royalty, or the wealthy who could afford to commission them. But with her simple outfit and rural surrounds, Mona Lisa appears more humble than most portrayed in her time. 
While no one knows for sure who, is in the painting, or exactly why, it’s believed her real name was Lisa Gherardini, the wife of wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo. Following her husband’s death, she became a nun and died in the convent in 1542 aged 63. 
In search of an answer to the riddle, archaeologists have recently discovered what they believe to be the skeleton of Lisa Gherardini, and are piecing it together for clues. It’s hoped the facial structure of the skull will once and for all solve the mystery of her identity, if not the reason behind her enigmatic smile.