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The mystery of the Mona Lisa finally revealed by this geologist ?

© Eric TERRADE/Unsplash

If there is one work of art that has fascinated the world for centuries, it is the Mona Lisa. The identity of the model, his smile, the modifications made by da Vinci during his creation… the hypotheses and speculations were numerous and led specialists to study the painting in detail. Another mystery still remained intact, that of the landscape that can be seen in the background. It too has been the subject of much debate. So much so that several studies have focused on it, such as that of the University of Bamberg in 2015 or that of Brigham Young University in 1962.

In May, an Italian geologist and art historian named Ann Pizzorusso made her contribution: she claimed to have identified with certainty where Mona Lisa was located when she posed for the famous Italian painter.

When the stones speak

The landscape behind the Mona Lisa would therefore be that of Lecco, a town nestled on the shores of Lake Como in Lombardy. For centuries, art historians and experts have wondered about the origin of this decoration: was it real or simply the result of the imagination of Vinci ?

It was thanks to his dual expertise that Pizzorusso established a link between the rock formations in the painting and the geology of Lecco. The bridge in the background is said to be the Ponte Azzone Visconti, a 14th century work of art spanning the Adda River. The presence of a body of water also corresponds to the geographical location of the city. Another key element highlighted by the expert: the identification of the steep cliffs present behind Mona Lisa. Composed of limestone rocks, their nature undeniably recalls the Dolomites of Lecco, renowned for their flamboyant colors and lush vegetation.

< h2>The end of a persistent historical debate ?

Leonardo da Vinci was not only&#8217 ;a painter of genius. Inventor, engineer, anatomist, mathematician, his knowledge of geology was such that he widely used it for his art. Most art historians placed the painting in the Italian Alps. Theories have focused on the bridge visible in the background, identified as the Ponte Buriano in Arezzo or, according to more recent studies, the Ponte Romito in Laterina.

In 2023, the historian Silvani Vinceti put forward the idea that the background represented the Tuscan town of Laterina, identifying distinctive landmarks of this region. The latter had suggested that the hill on the right of the painting could be the fortified town of Civitella in Val di Chiana, located not far from Laterina. He had identified the river as the Arno, and the vegetation present in the painting (cypresses, olive trees and vines) as typically Tuscan. However, Vinceti's hypothesis has not yet been unanimously accepted by the artistic and scientific community.

Pizzorusso's hypothesis, too, is not unanimously accepted within the artistic communityand reactions were mixed. If some support it, others still remain skeptical.

In any case, analyzing the Mona Lisa under the prism of geology opens all the same a whole new dimension in the understanding of the work of da Vinci. It is very likely that this centuries-old artistic investigation will continue and that the painting will never reveal all of its secrets. Indeed, da Vinci never left a single clue in his personal journals regarding this painting, which still leaves the field open to numerous interpretations. Finally, aren't the shadowy areas of this painting painted more than 500 years ago what gives it this timeless aura& nbsp;?

  • Ann Pizzorusso, an Italian geologist and art historian, provided a new theory regarding the background of the Mona Lisa.
  • By analyzing the limestone cliffs present in the setting, she affirmed that the landscape was that close to the town of Lecco, in Lombardy
  • A hypothesis which did not won support from the entire artistic community.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116