Although there are many ideas about the identity of the Mona Lisa's model, the latest is noteworthy: historian Silvano Vinceti believes the painting was based on a male apprentice of Leonardo's — and his lover.
Reports the AP,
The apprentice, Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salai, worked with Leonardo for more than two decades starting in 1490. Vinceti described their relationship as "ambiguous," and most art historians agree Salai was a Leonardo lover. Several Leonardo works, including "St. John the Baptist," were based on Salai, Vinceti said.
He notes the similarities in the features, especially the mouth and nose. However, for a while there's been a general consensus that the portrait depicted a Florentine merchant's wife. Vincenti's not denying that their might have been other, female models — he points out that the painting was done over many years and probably incorporated a range of influences, philosophical and otherwise.
Vincenti is a bit of a scholar out of Dan Brown: last year he claimed to have found Caravaggio's bones. And some of his evidence is ready for prime-time. Says the AP,
He combines state-of-the-art, CSI-like techniques with old-fashioned library research. Analyzing high-definition scanned images of the "Mona Lisa," Vinceti claimed in recent weeks to have found the letter "S'' and "L'' in the model's eyes, and the number "72" under the arched bridge in the backdrop of the painting. He attaches several symbolic meanings to these letters: the "S'' pointed him to Salai and the Sforza dynasty that ruled Milan, while the "L'' is a reference to the artist himself and Lisa Gherardini.
Other scholars, meanwhile, remain skeptical.