The Mona Lisa portrait: Leonardo’s personal and political tribute to Isabella Aragon Sforza, the Duchess of Milan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The modern consensus clings to the traditional belief that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the wealthy Florentine merchant, Francesco del Giocondo. However, this opinion is based on incorrect interpretations of limited historical information and contradictions rather than on any concrete evidence. Robert Payne, who wrote a biography on Leonardo da Vinci in 1978, probably provided the first serious suggestion that Isabella of Aragon, the Duchess Consort of Milan, was the Mona Lisa. He realised that Isabella of Aragon was the Mona Lisa when he saw a drawing of her in Milan in her early twenties that currently is held in the Hyde Collection at Glen Falls in New York. In this paper, I reflect on Robert Payne’s findings and arguments and compare the style, look and chronology of many Renaissance versions of Mona Lisa with the facial characteristics of the Isabella Aragon Sforza’s idealized
portraits to support and further develop the Payne rationale that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a tribute to and an idealized representation of the widow Isabella of Aragon and not Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-50
Number of pages20
JournalInternational journal of art and art history
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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