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Mona darling

india Updated: Jan 11, 2011 21:54 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Italians, as the Catholic concept of the immaculate conception firmed up by medieval and Renaissance Italian popes attest, love metaphysical mysteries. And nothing conjures up the sense of mystery more than Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Just when we were getting used to the fact that the lady in the painting was Lisa del Giocondo, a noblewoman from Florence, we were told that it may be the portrait of Bianca Giovanna Sforze, daughter of a Milanese duke. Then there’s the yet-to-be-resolved business of whether the Mona Lisa is really a depiction of Da Vinci himself. Stereoscopic research suggests so. But some scholars argue that Da Vinci, like many artists, saw much of himself in the subjects he painted. This week, we have another Mona Lisa theory thrown at us: the landscape depicted behind the figure of the woman is a real place called Bobbio in northern Italy.

How did Italian art historian Carla Glori come to this conclusion? Well, last year the number 72 was found under an arch in the bridge depicted in the painting's background. This, apparently, refers to a bridge in Bobbio that was almost destroyed by flooding in 1472. Tough one that, but something that didn't stop Dutch researchers, after running the smile through an ‘emotion recognition' software in 2005, to state that the Mona Lisa smile depicts 3% happiness, 9% disgust, 6% fear, 2% anger, less than 1% no emotion at all.

Perhaps the only thing that is not a source of anyone's curiosity about Mona Lisa is the gurgling sound from its creator coming from beyond the grave. Our theory is that Da Vinci is rolling with laughter as he sees all these theorywallahs come up with mysteries in his most famous painting and then try and solve them.