Experts Search Convent for Mona Lisa's Body

They hope to use software to reconstruct Lisa Gherardini's face from her skull

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 3, 2011 1:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – A group of researchers have begun scouring a dilapidated convent in Florence with radar devices, in the hopes of digging up the body of Lisa Gherardini—the woman some believe was the model for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. They hope that if they find her skull, they can use facial reconstruction technology to see if she is indeed the woman depicted in the painting, Reuters explains.

“We have a document confirming the burial of Gherardini in 1542 here in the convent,” says researcher Silvano Vincenti (the lead researcher behind this discovery); she apparently lived there in her later years with her two daughters, who were nuns. The researchers will compare the DNA of any bones they find to those of her children, who are known to be buried at another convent, to confirm the body is hers. But some of Gherardini’s ancestors aren’t thrilled with the idea. “Let her rest in peace,” says one. “What could finding her remains change to the charm of Leonardo’s painting?” For more on the effort, click here.

Researchers use a geo-radar device to search underground tombs in a Florence convent, Italy, Wednesday, April 27, 2011.   (AP Photo/Enzo Russo)
Researcher Silvano Vinceti, silhouetted, gestures to a projection of the eyes of Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" painting, in this Feb 2, 2011 file photo.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, files)
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