Home World Mona Lisa's mysterious background might have finally been cracked

Mona Lisa's mysterious background might have finally been cracked


The landscape over the shoulder of Mona Lisa has divided opinion for generations.

But one expert believes she has finally cracked the case, claiming the backdrop to the famous painting lines up with the mountains above Lake Como.

Ann Pizzorusso told a geology conference she believed Lecco was visible behind the Mona Lisa’s shoulder.

She says the city’s 14th century Azzone Visconti bridge can be seen on the right hand side of the painting.

Pizzorusso says she has also identified the southwestern Alsp, overlooking Lecco, as a key element in the hazy romantic backdrop.

Her case is strengthened by Leonardo da Vinci having been known to visit the area, reports The Times.

The oil-on-wood painting is believed to represent Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy cloth merchant from Florentine. Da Vinci started it in the early 1500s and finished years later after moving to France to work for King Francis I.

Pizzorusso claims the landscape in the background shows a scientific realism that was a trait of the artist’s work.

She says she made the discovery several years ago after retracing da Vinci’s footsteps but did not appreciate the importance until she shared it with a colleague.

She said: “I found the geological places he talked about in his notebooks. A spring, a waterway, all these things still exist today. Leonardo was here as an engineer trying to build a canal from Milan to Como, but he encountered difficulties half-way.”

She says the bridge in the background was another element that helped her identify the spot the picture was meant to be based on.

While the shape of the mountains above the lake – and the lake itself – also meant she knew she was on the right track.

Pizzorusso says the grey-white colour of da Vinci’s rocks matched the limestone of the Lecco area, further providing her confirmation she needed.

Previous theories to find the backdrop have focused on the arched bridge. With many experts believing it to be Bobbio, a small town in northern Italy, or to the Romito di Laterina bridge near Arezzo.

Antonio Forcellino, an Italian da Vinci expert remains unsure about the new information. He says the idea that Grigna, a mountain near to Lecco is part of the painting is “not new”.

Jacques Franck, a biographer of the artist, says he will take on board the new information.

He said da Vinci was known to make trips to the Lombardy and Piedmont regions of Italy, during these trips it is said he would drawn mountains and hilly landscapes.

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