Not in 1503/1504 – during Leonardo’s second stay in Florence – following a commission received by the merchant Francesco del Giocondo for his wife, but Leonardo may have painted the “head” of Monna Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, which has since been lost. Vasari – who had not seen either one – seems to be confused on this point.
Leonardo did not even paint the Mona Lisa later, around the year 1513-1514 and while in Rome, following the Pacifica Brandani’s hypothesis, presented by Carlo Pedretti and Roberto Zapperi in his book Monna Lisa Addio (2012).
Our idea is – and we are the first to formulate it – is that Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in 1478, the year of the murder of Giuliano de’ Medici. And the lady represented here could be one of Giuliano’s favourite lovers: Fioretta Gorini, who died at childbirth, delivering Giulio de’ Medici.
Our reasons are summarised below:
-Leonardo told Antonio De Beatis, on 10 October 1517, that the Mona Lisa was: “A paiting of a Florentine lady, commissioned by the deceased Magnificent Giuliano”. The Magnificent Giuliano was Giuliano de’ Medici, brother of Lorenzo de’ Medici, not Giuliano de’ Medici, Duke of Nemours, as all art critics and historians had since thought.
-The Mona Lisa is on poplar wood, like all the earlier paintings by Leonardo who, after moving to Milan, switched to walnut wood.
-There are no preparatory sketches left in his pages about the Mona Lisa but we have an important landscape: the View of the Valdinievole kept at the Uffizi Museum, in Florence, dated 5 August 1473, which could be seen as the starting point for the landscape we see behind the Mona Lisa. See our graphic elaboration. If we transform the castle in the drawing into rocks, then we seem not far from the background of the Mona Lisa hanging at the Louvre.
-Pascal Cotte has discovered, using light technology, some conspicuous differences beneath the Mona Lisa but not in the landscape, which looks unchanged.