According to the Associated Press, a researcher has found symbols in Mona Lisa:
Letters, numbers claimed found in the painting
Forget her smile. An Italian researcher says the key to solving the
enigmas of "Mona Lisa'" lies in her eyes.
Silvano Vinceti claims he has found the letter "S'' in the woman's
left eye, the letter "L'' in her right eye, and the number "72" under
the arched bridge in the backdrop of Leonardo da Vinci's famous
painting. According to the researcher, the symbols open up new leads
to identifying the model, dating the painting, and attesting to
Leonardo's interest in religion and mysticism.
This is just the latest theory about a painting that has never ceased
to intrigue scholars, art lovers and casual viewers alike. Others have
claimed the painting is really the portrait of a man, or a
self-portrait, while speculation over the reason for the model's
famously enigmatic smile have ranged from pregnancy to mourning.
Some Leonardo scholars have expressed doubt over the new findings or
their significance, with one calling them "unsubstantial."
The newly found symbols are not visible to the naked eye. Vinceti said
Wednesday they are "very small, painted with a tiny brush and
subjected to the wear and tear of time."
Vinceti has not studied the painting directly at the Louvre Museum,
where it is on display. He said his research was based on
high-definition scanned images from the Lumiere Technology in Paris,
which specializes in digitizing artworks. Back in Italy, a Rome
laboratory digitally excluded reflexes and other colors in the eyes in
order to isolate the letters and make them stand out, Vinceti said.
The number "72" was recently found hidden in an arch of the bridge to
the right of the model, he told The Associated Press.
Tradition holds that the "Mona Lisa" is a painting of Lisa Gherardini,
wife of Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo, and that Leonardo
started painting it in 1503.
But Vinceti said the "S'' might refer to a woman in the Sforza dynasty
that ruled Milan. Leonardo spent time there between 1482-1499 and then
between 1506-1507, Vinceti said, which might change the date of when
the painting was begun.
Vinceti said the letter on the painting is drawn in the same way
Leonardo did in his writings. The letter "L'' is for Leonardo, he
Vinceti and his group of historians and researchers are currently
studying documents and making cross-references about Leonardo's
movements and possible models. He said they expect to come up with a
name for the model within weeks.
The number "72," Vinceti argues, is found in the Kabbalah, a form of
Jewish mysticism, and in Christianity. Even when considered
separately, "7'' is full of symbolic associations in both Judaism and
Christianity, for example to the creation of the world, and the number
"2'' may be a reference to the duality of male and female, said
The researcher said he remains open to other interpretations, but
insisted that the "Mona Lisa" was more than just a painting for
Leonardo ó it was a "cultural will" of sorts.
"Leonardo did nothing by chance," said Vinceti. "He wanted to leave
his final thoughts on his view of the universe."
Vinceti is the same researcher who has recently said he located
Caravaggio's remains. He also sought to dig up Leonardo's body in
France to conduct carbon and DNA testing.
Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of a museum dedicated to Leonardo in
his Tuscan hometown of Vinci, was skeptical.
Vezzosi argued that multiple sources prove that the painting depicts a
woman from Florence, saying the purported new symbols are insufficient
to counter that evidence.
Claudio Strinati, an art historian and an official with the Italian
Culture Ministry, said Leonardo's passion for the Kabbalah is well
known. But he doesn't believe that Leonardo wanted to attach any
symbolic meaning to the letters and numbers, otherwise he would have
left better clues.
"Over the past decades there have been so many interpretations I don't
even remember them all," Strinati told the AP. "We all think the (Mona
Lisa) is this constant source of mystery. The truth is, when you set
your mind to finding a secret, you can demonstrate whatever you want."