In the infamous words of Austin Powers, “It’s a man, Baby!”
“Mona Lisa,” arguably the world’s most famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci is said to have been a portrait of a man, and not the Italian woman Lisa del Giocondo.
According to Italian researcher Silvano Vinceti, the portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci was influenced by a male apprentice, long-time companion, and possible lover of the artist.
Vinceti believes that the portrait itself holds several clues and “must be read at various levels”. He believes Da Vinci’s apprentice “Gian Giacomo Caprotti,” also known as “Salai” was the main influence and model for the painting.
Vinceti described the pair’s relationship as “ambiguous” and most art historians agree that Salai was one of the artist’s lovers.
And according to Yahoo News:
The researcher goes on to claim that the similarities between the individual in the Mona Lisa and Salai’s depiction in other Da Vinci works are “striking”, and he particularly highlights the nose and the mouth. He added, “Salai was a favorite model for Leonardo. Leonardo certainly inserted characteristics of Salai in the last version of the Mona Lisa”.
Other art historians were skeptical about the theory, however.
Pietro Marani, a Leonardo authority and the author of several books on the artist, called the theory “groundless.” While other scholars have claimed that Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa as a disguised self-portrait, or based the work, with its famously enigmatic smile, on his mother.