While Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre in Paris, researchers are opening up a tomb in Florence, Italy, in hopes of identifying the bones behind the famed halfsmile.
Art historians generally agree that Lisa Gherardini, who lived across the street from Leonardo da Vinci, was likely the model for his masterpiece. Using DNA samples from the Gherardini family tomb, researchers are aiming to confirm a familial connection with the skeleton.
The next step will be a virtual reconstruction of the skeleton’s face in the hope of matching the bone structure to the famous smirking woman.
It is a serious undertaking, but one that could uncover the mystery of the Mona Lisa smile. Was it the cause of congenital palsy or just bad teeth? If no one alive can explain it, maybe a skeleton can.