There has long been debate about the Mona Lisa’s true identity even if, for centuries, it has been widely believed to have been Monna Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine silk merchant and money-lender, Francesco del Giocondo. This was based on Giorgio Vasari biography of Leonardo, even if Vasari was talking about a head, not a portrait.
Pascal Cotte a respected expert on light technology challenges that theory. He believes the image he has reconstructed underneath the surface of the painting is Leonardo’s original Lisa, and that the portrait named Mona Lisa is in fact, a different woman. Pascal Cotte was the expert who had confirmed the authenticity of the Bella Principessa and indicated that there were three points, hitherto unnoticed, suggesting where it had been pulled out of a book. This was later confirmed: the painting had been pulled out of a late XV century codex known as the Sforziade a national treasure of Poland, which was donated by King Francis I to the King of Poland in 1517.
He said: “The results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo’s masterpiece forever. When I finished the reconstruction of Lisa Gherardini, I was in front of the portrait and she is totally different to Mona Lisa today. This is not the same woman.”
He also claims to have found two more images under the surface of the painting – a shadowy outline of a portrait with a larger head and nose, bigger hands but smaller lips. And he says he has found another Madonna-style image with Leonardo’s etchings of a pearl headdress.
In my book Leonardo Da Vinci. A Chinese Scholar Lost in Renaissance Italy Lascar 2015, I had claimed the same thing: Lisa Gherardini has nothing to do with the Mona Lisa hanging at the Louvre and that the image we now see is just a ghost emerging from Leonardo’s Past. In fact she is the image of his mother, as claimed in 1910 by Sigmund Freud. See http://www.lascarpublishing.com/leonardo/
Here is the link to the BBC article and their upcoming documentary: