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Next Step in Mona Lisa Quest: DNA Testing

Reconstruction of Lisa Gheradini's face may give clues about famed painting
By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2012 8:18 AM CST

(Newser) – Art history fans have a good reason to crack a smile: We're getting closer to determining whether Lisa Gherardini did indeed serve as the model for Leonardo da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa, reports CNN. Researchers in Italy have been sorting through a set of exhumed bones—currently wrapped in tinfoil and stored in Tupperware—and will next compare the DNA of the remains to that from the bones of two of Gherardini's known relatives.

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"Once we identify the remains we can reconstruct the face, with a margin of error of 2% to 8%," says lead researcher Silvano Vinceti. "By doing this, we will finally be able to answer the question the art historians can't: Who was the model for Leonardo?" But even if Gherardini was the model, only some of her features may have made it into the final painting. Vinceti believes da Vinci originally painted a "dark and depressed" person; the enigmatic smirk was probably added later on, he speculates. (Read more Mona Lisa stories.)

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