It’s a boy! Is this the secret behind Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile?

Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa - the secret behind her enigmatic smile revealed?

In Italy, when there is a birth in the family, the proud parents and grandparents put a pink or blue ribbon accordingly on the front door of their home, with details of the new addition to the family such as the name, birth date and birth weight.

The Musèe du Lourve is not quite ready to put up a blue ribbon on the Mona Lisa however after new claims by art historian Silvano Vinceti that Leonardo’s famous Renaissance painting is actually predominantly a portrait of  the artist’s male apprentice, Gian Ciacomo Capriotti (nicknamed Salai).

The Mona Lisa is labelled in the Lourve as ‘Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo’*, the title giving quite a good indication of the supposed identity of the Mona Lisa.

Vinceti also credits the face to being inspired by Beatrice D’Este, a noblewoman married to the owner of the court in Milan (Duke Ludovico Sforza) where Leonardo was working prior to starting on the Mona Lisa.

Others claim that the Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait of the artist himself.

Vincenti is going for the ‘all of the above’ option, saying that Leonardo worked on the portrait over a number of years and was influenced by several sources. However, he claims that the main influence is that of Salai.

It has also been claimed that poor ol’ Lisa is not quite attractive enough to not be a portrait, otherwise Leonardo would surely have made Lisa better looking!

As to where the ‘Mona’ comes from, it’s the Italian version of ‘ma’am’, coming from a shortened version of the Italian for ‘my lady’, with ‘donna’ being woman/lady in Italian (think, ‘Madonna’ – which in Italian traditionally refers to the Virgin Mary not the singer of ‘Like a Virgin’!).

Leonardo's St John the Baptist - is that a familiar smile?

If you’d like to see some of Leonardo da Vinci’s artworks with an art-expert tour guide, we have a skip-the-line tour of Florence’s famous museum, the Uffizi Gallery, with a small-group.

You can also choose to have this guided Uffizi Gallery tour with a private guide.

For a private art tour with a twist, our expert tour guide can take you on the search for a lost Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece, “La battaglia di Anghiari”, lost for over five centuries.

Take this experience to a whole other level by visiting  a world-heritage listed landmark with the world’s leading art sleuth to track down the last truly great art mystery. In a case of life imitating art, our tour guide is also an internationally-renowned and erudite art detective who also happens to be the only real person mentioned in Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’.

In Rome, we have a guided small-group, skip-the-line tour of the Vatican where you can see more of Leonardo Da Vinci’s works.

You can also have our guide all to yourself on this skip-the-line private guided tour of the Vatican.

There are many more things to do, as you can see on our website You can also email for further information.

* The title also gives a clue as to why the Italians know the Mona Lisa as ‘La Gioconda’ – which also means ‘the playful one’, owing to the somewhat mischievous smile worn by the painting’s subject.

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