Wednesday 27 April 2022

Who was Mona Lisa?

 Who was Mona Lisa?

"Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci

The question of who was Mona Lisa has occupied scholars for at least 150 years, more or less since Leonardo da Vinci's painting, known in English as "Mona Lisa", became the most famous painting on the planet - before that time it was well-known but not as highly esteemed as it became. The subject of the painting is widely believed to be Lisa del Giocondo who was a member of the Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany, and the wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant, Francesco del Giocondo. This was Vasari's belief and there is no doubt that Leonardo worked on a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo. This was confirmed in 2005, when a scholar at Heidelberg University discovered a marginal note in a 1477 edition of a work by Cicero. The note was written by Leonardo's contemporary Agostino Vespucci, is dated October 1503 and states that Leonardo was at that time working on a painting of Lisa del Giocondo. There have even been claims that the portrait was painted at Villa Vignamaggio near Greve in Chianti, and that some of the geological formations in the background are the famous Tuscan balze, a type of eroded badlands formation.

However, was that painting the one we know today as "Mona Lisa"? According to Martin Kemp, one of the foremost Leonardo scholars, there is not the slightest scrap of evidence that it was. In his still valuable 1981 study, "Leonardo da Vinci. The marvellous works of Nature and Man", Kemp punctiliously refers to the Louvre painting as "Portrait of a Lady on a Balcony" and is convinced that it was started shortly before 1506 during Leonardo's Florentine period. Based on the 1517 report of his meeting with Leonardo by Antonio de' Beatis, Kemp also rules out the possibility of identifying her as one of the great ladies of the Renaissance. de' Beatis stated that it was a "portrait of a certain Florentine lady, made from nature at the instigation of the late Magnificent Giuliano de' Medici". However, Kemp thinks that the portrait was worked on from time to time later, especially the elaboration of the background.

Needless to say, several other names have been proposed for the subject this portrait, including Isabella d'Este, Isabella of Aragon, Cecilia Gallerani, Costanza d'Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla, Pacifica Brandano or Brandino, Isabela Gualanda, Caterina Sforza and, most recently, Bianca Giovanna Sforza. 

Carla Gori has proposed that the Mona Lisa is in fact a portrait of Bianca Giovanna Sforza, wife of the jouster Galeazzo Sanseverino, daughter of Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan and Lord of Bobbio near Piacenza. The basis of her hypothesis is as follows. She considers that the mural drawings of the Malaspina dal Verme castle dedicated to Sanseverino, patron and friend of Leonardo, were, at the very least, supervised on site by Leonardo. 

Bridge in the background of Mona Lisa
The bridge in the background of the Mona Lisa

Ponte Gobbo di Bobbio

In the background of the Mona Lisa, a bridge is depicted which she identified, in 2010, as the Ponte Gobbo di Bobbio, specifically as viewed from Malaspina dal Verme castle. In addition to the Ponte Gobbo, the Trebbia river and its large bend coincide with the stream depicted to the right of the Mona Lisa. The same goes for the mountains in the background, similar to the topography of the Val Tidone, the Pietra Parcellara and the badlands area. Most recently, circumstantial evidence suggests that Leonardo did indeed spend time at Pierfrancesco di Gropparello, near Bobbio. A group of geologists published a description of ichnofossils quite specific to that zone which seem to be the same as those illustrated by Leonardo in the Codex Leicester.

It's unlikely that Bianca Giovanna Sforza will displace Lisa del Giocondo as "Mona Lisa" anytime soon, but as research continues, who can tell?

Tuscany Toscana
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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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Saturday 2 April 2022

Free entry to state museums in Florence on the first Sunday of each month

Starting on the 3rd of April, 2022, there will be free access for all visitors to state museums, archaeological parks and cultural sites in Florence and elsewhere in Tuscany on the first Sunday of the every month. This might not apply to municipal museums and other sights that belong to the city of Florence.

Free entry into Florence museums

 Florence is one of several cities in Italy that have had, for several years, a  day of the month when entry to many museums is free for residents. In Florence the programme is known as Domenica Metropolitana. All of this was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the severity of the pandemic declines and the rules are slowly relaxed, state-owned sights are being added to the municipal ones that are included in the Domenica Metropolitana programme. In Florence, this allows residents of the metropolitan city of Florence to visit city museums for free on first Sunday of every month, and all visitors to enter state-owned sights free.

Although it has been reported that from the 1st of April 2022, access to historical sights, museums, galleries and gardens no longer requires the covid vacination Green Pass (or equivalent document providing evidence that you have been vaccinated and have received a booster shot within the past 6 months), it is unclear whether this applies everywhere. It therefore remains advisable for you to have your Green Pass with you. The requirement to wear a face mask remains in place in all instances.

Tuscan sights open to all for free on the first Sunday of every month include: 

Antiquarium nazionale di Sestino
Via Marche - 52038 Sestino (AR)

Area archeologica di Vetulonia
vie Case di Siena, s.n.c. - 58043 Castiglione della Pescaia (GR)

Basilica di San Francesco
piazza San Francesco, 1 - 52100 Arezzo (AR)
Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto a San Salvi
via di San Salvi, 16 - 50135 Firenze (FI)

Eremo di San Leonardo al Lago
strada dell'Osteriaccia, 4 - 53035 Monteriggioni (SI)

Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze
via Ricasoli - 50122 Firenze (FI)

Gallerie degli Uffizi – Gli Uffizi
piazzale degli Uffizi - 50122 Firenze (FI)

Gallerie degli Uffizi - Tesoro dei Granduchi (Palazzo Pitti)
piazza Pitti - 50125 Firenze (FI)
Gallerie degli Uffizi - Museo della Moda e del Costume (Palazzo Pitti)
piazza Pitti - 50125 Firenze (FI)
Gallerie degli Uffizi - Galleria Palatina e Appartamenti Reali e Imperiali (Palazzo Pitti)
piazza Pitti - 50125 Firenze (FI)
Gallerie degli Uffizi - Giardino di Boboli
piazza Pitti - 50125 Firenze (FI)
Gallerie degli Uffizi - Museo delle porcellane
piazza Pitti - 50125 Firenze (FI)

Gallerie degli Uffizi – Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Palazzo Pitti)
piazza Pitti - 50125 Firenze (FI)

Museo archeologico nazionale ed Area archeologica di Cosa
via delle Ginestre, s.n.c. - 58015 Orbetello (GR)

Museo archeologico nazionale di Firenze
piazza S.S. Annunziata, 9b - 50122 Firenze (FI)

Museo archeologico nazionale “Gaio Cilnio Mecenate” e Anfiteatro romano
via Margaritone, 10 - 52100 Arezzo (AR)

Museo delle arti e tradizioni popolari dell’Alta Valle del Tevere - Palazzo Taglieschi
piazza Mameli, s.n.c. - 52031 Anghiari (AR)
Museo di Casa Vasari
via XX settembre, 55 - 52100 Arezzo (AR)

Museo nazionale della Certosa monumentale di Calci
via Roma, 79 - 56011 Calci (PI)
Museo nazionale delle residenze Napoleoniche Palazzina dei Mulini
piazzale Napoleone, 1-3 - 57037 Portoferraio (LI)

Museo nazionale delle residenze Napoleoniche Villa S. Martino
via di San Martino - 57037 Portoferraio (LI)
Museo nazionale di Casa Giusti
viale Vincenzo Martini, 18 - 51015 Monsummano Terme (PT)
Museo nazionale di Palazzo Mansi
via Galli Tassi, 43 - 55100 Lucca (LU)
Museo nazionale di San Matteo
piazza S. Matteo In Soarta - 56126 Pisa (PI)

Museo nazionale di Villa Guinigi
via della Quarquonia s.n.c. - 55100 Lucca (LU)

Museo nazionale etrusco e necropoli di Chiusi
via Porsenna, 93 - 53043 Chiusi (SI)
Museo nazionale etrusco, Necropoli di Poggio Renzo e Tomba del Colle
via della Pellegrina - 53043 Chiusi (SI)
Musei del Bargello - Museo nazionale del Bargello
via del Proconsolo, 4 - 50122 Firenze (FI)
Parco di Villa Il Ventaglio
via Giovanni Aldini, 10/12 - 50131 Firenze (FI)
Pinacoteca nazionale di Siena
via San Pietro, 29 - 53100 Siena (SI)
Villa medicea della Petraia
via della Petraia, 40 - 50141 Firenze (FI)
Villa medicea di Cerreto Guidi e Museo storico della Caccia e del Territorio
via Ponti Medicei, 7 - 50050 Cerreto Guidi (FI)

Free entry on the first Sunday of every month in Florence

Tuscany Toscana
Don't forget to visit Elena Spolaor's
Travel Guide!

Up-to-date news on what to see and where to stay in Chianti and all of Tuscany & Umbria.

Chianti Travel Guide

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

All content copyright © ammonet Web Site Promotion 2015 - 2022. All rights reserved.