L1 0BG

Our Work

The last resting place of the Mona Lisa

November 23, 2010

The last resting place of the Mona Lisa is probably an old rubbish dump in Italy, it has been revealed.

Researchers had hoped that they might find the tomb or gravestone of the Mona Lisa when they established her true identity in Florence.

But it will be to the dismay art lovers, who view her portrait in the Louvre gallery, in Paris, that the earthly remains of “La Gioconda” were dug up and DUMPED in the 1980s.

The world famous smile captured in Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece has fascinated admirers since he committed it to canvas in the early 16th century.

It has been established that da Vinci’s model for the portrait was almost certainly Lisa Gherardini, born in May 1479 in Florence.

She became the second wife of silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo and was therefore known as “La Gioconda” – the official title of the Mona Lisa painting.

But Francesco died before Lisa and after his death she entered a Franciscan convent and lived with the nuns to the age of 63, until her death in July 1542.

Records recently unearthed by author, and Mona Lisa expert Dottore Giuseppe Pallanti show that Lisa was buried in the convent of Sant’Orsola in Florence where she died.

But hopes of tracing her tomb have been dashed after it emerged that building works at the site in the 1980s saw its crypts wantonly excavated and their contents destroyed.

A church funeral record found by Dottore Pallanti shows: “The wife of Francesco del Giocondo, died July 15, 1542 – buried at Sant’Orsola”.

The sprawling three-story Sant’Orsola building dates back to the 1309 but ceased to be used as a convent in 1810 and became a tobacco factory until it was uses for university classrooms in the 1940s and 50s.

But has stood semi-derelict with its windows bricked-up since building work to re-develop it as offices for Italy’s “Guardia di Finanza” police force were abandoned in 1985.

Many medieval tombs survive in Florentine churches and convents and there was hope that when the building examined the last resting place of the Mona Lisa could be traced.

But now a new #23million (pounds) scheme will turn the building into a community and arts centre, with a swimming pool.

And a detailed survey has shown that the tombs were excavated in the 1980s, when the intention was to build an underground car park.

Dott. Pallanti, author of “Mona Lisa Revealed: The True Identity of Leonardo’s Model” has spent three decades combing Florence’s archives for to find her last resting place.

He said: “The tombs have all been lost. Sadly, when the works were carried out in the 1980s no thought was given to the historical importance of the building and its artefacts.

“They just wanted to build new barracks for the Guardia di Finanza and the material they excavated was disposed-of.”

All rubbish and debris from Florence in the 1980s was tipped on a landfill site as “Case le Passarini”.

Now a huge grassed hill towering to a hight of 100ft on the outskirts of the city, the dump is identified as the only place where Lisa’s tombstone and remains could have been dumped.

A survey ahead of the new Sant’Orsola project confirmed that Sant’Orsola contains no historical artefacts.

Project architect Luigi Ulivieri said: “What we found inside is a kind of devastation. All that remains of the old Sant’Orsola convent is the external walls and some fourteenth-century arches.”

Yet despite its associations with the Mona Lisa there are currently no plans to include a reference to her in the re-development scheme by Florence City Council which is due for completion in 2015.

Instead, part of the building will be dedicated to Carlo Lorenzini, the author of the children’s story Pinocchio, who was born nearby in Taddea Street.

But Pallanti is calling on officials in Florence to include a tribute to the Mona Lisa in the plans for the building where she lived-out the last four years of her life.

Pallanti said: “It is sad that the tomb of Lisa Gherardini has been destroyed without anyone realising it at the time.

“But the renovation Sant’Orsola presents an ideal opportunity to create a memorial to Leonardo and Mona Lisa.

“Lisa was born nearby in Via Sguazza and lived her married life in Via della Stufa with Francesco del Giocondo and they had five children.

“The building and the streets around it were the places where she lived her entire life

“I would like to see the building named the Mona Lisa Art Centre. What could be more fitting and suitable?

“A new work of art could be commissioned to commemorate Leonardo and the famous portrait.

“Surely the Mona Lisa and Leonardo are more important than Carlo Lorenzini and Pinocchio!

“The new art centre could also host a display of manuscripts, regarding the Mona Lisa’s life.

“There are many interesting and beautiful archive documents about her and her family and they would make a fascinating exhibition.

“I have proposed this to the city authorities, but I’m still waiting for a reply.”

Dott. Pallanti’s research shows that Lisa Gherardini married Francesco Del Giocondo in 1495 and they had six children.

They were Piero, Piera, Camilla, Marietta, Andrea and Giocondo.

Marietta became a nun and lived at Sant’orsola as “Sister Ludovica” while Camila too was a nun, with the name “Sister Beatrice”.

Lisa also brought up Bartolomeo, the son of the first marriage of Francesco Del Giocondo and Camilla Rucellai.

More information on the Mona Lisa story can be found at Dottore Pallantini’s web page http://www.monalisastory.com