Mystery around the Mona Lisa: the landscape in the background finally identified?

Mystery around the Mona Lisa: the landscape in the background finally identified?
Mystery around the Mona Lisa: the landscape in the background finally identified?

One of the world’s most famous paintings continues to intrigue experts. The background of the “Mona Lisa” painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century is once again at the center of debate. Ann Pizzorusso, geologist and art historian, assures that the view behind Mona Lisa corresponds to the province of Lecco, in Lombardy in northern Italy, reports the Guardian.

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This specialist first compared the bridge, the mountain range and the lake that can be seen behind Mona Lisa to the Azzone Visconti bridge in Lecco from the 14th century, the southwest Alps overlooking the region and Lake Garlate, traveled 500 years ago by the painter. According to the historian, the similarities are obvious.

For more than ten years, several theories on the origin of the landscape have emerged. First in 2011 with the one according to which a bridge and a road of the canvas correspond to the town of Bobbio, another locality in the north of Italy. Then another in 2023, attesting that the artist had painted a bridge in the province of Arezzo, a little further in the center of the country.

The rock as a clue

But for Ann Pizzorusso, focusing on the viaduct is a mistake. “Arch bridges were ubiquitous throughout Italy and Europe and many looked similar. It is impossible to identify an exact location from a single bridge,” she explains, lamenting that no expert was interested in the geology. “Geologists don’t look at paintings and art historians don’t look at geology,” she said.

The historian focused on the rock in the painting, affirming that its gray-white color corresponds to the limestone rocks of Lecco. And to perfect her theory, she assures that neither Bobbio nor Arezzo has a lake, unlike Lecco. “We know from his notebooks that he spent a lot of time exploring the region,” as well as territories further north,” she further affirmed to our colleagues.

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