Where was Mona Lisa painted? Italian geologist decodes Da Vinci’s 500-year-old mystery

Geologist Pizzorusso's research combines art and science to pinpoint Mona Lisa's location in Lecco, Italy, challenging previous theories with geological findings.

Livemint
First Published18 May 2024
A geologist has claimed of finding the location where the historic Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci
A geologist has claimed of finding the location where the historic Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci

Italian geologist Ann Pizzorusso has presented a new theory to identify the exact location where Leonardo da Vinci painted the world-famous Mona Lisa 500 years ago. The location of the Mona Lisa painting has remained one of the most debated topics among historians. However, this time, Pizzorusso has utilised her expertise in geology to prove her theory.

According to Italian Renaissance specialist Ann Pizzorusso, Monalisa was painted in Lecco in northern Italy.

"When I came to Lecco, I realised he had painted the Mona Lisa here," news agency Reuters quoted Pizzorusso as saying. Lecco is a small town on the shores of Lake Como, hitherto best known as the setting of Alessandro Manzoni's masterpiece novel "The Betrothed".

Geologist and Renaissance Art Historian Ann Pizzorusso poses for a portrait in Lecco, Italy, May 13, 2024. A study by Geologist and Renaissance Art Historian Ann Pizzorusso suggests that the scenery could be the setting for the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci.

What proves Lecco is Mona Lisa's origin city?

The backdrop of Mona Lisa's painting features an arched bridge. According to the scholar, the arched bridge would correspond to the 14th-century Ponte Azzone Visconti.

A drone view shows Azzone Visconti bridge in Lecco, Italy, May 13, 2024. A study by Geologist and Renaissance Art Historian Ann Pizzorusso suggests that the scenery could be the setting for the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

Previous theories by historians associate the bridge with similar structures in other Italian cities, such as Arezzo and Bobbio.

'Earlier theories about Mona Lisa's origin have incorrect geology'

According to Pizzorusso, her knowledge of geology makes her claims more realistic than those of historians earlier. She has cited some incorrections in previous theories.

"The bridge to me was not the important aspect of painting. In the other hypotheses the geology was just incorrect," Reuters quoted Pizzorusso.

The geologist found that rock formations in Lecco were limestone, which matched what is depicted behind the noblewoman.

"When you look at the Mona Lisa, you see this part of the Adda River, and you see another lake behind it, which are perfectly shown underneath these sawtooth mountains," she said from the spot where the scene could have been painted.

Pizzorusso's research on Leonardo "shows perfectly the extent to which the artist and the scientist came together," said Michael Daley, executive director of ArtWatch UK, a nonprofit organisation monitoring the conservation of artworks.

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