Hunt for Mona Lisa model leads to Florence tomb

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Researchers trying to identify the Renaissance model for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” have excavated bones in a tomb in a Florence basilica in hopes they are the remains of her descendants.

Geologist Antonio Moretti told reporters in the Santissima Annunziata basilica Friday the remains had an inscribed stone indicating they belonged to the family of Lisa Gherardini’s husband and sons. Many believe she posed for Leonardo.

Researchers will run tests to see if DNA from the children’s bones is linked to female bones previously found in a Florence convent and believed to be those of Gherardini, who died around 1542. If the DNA tests are positive, experts plan to reconstruct the woman’s skull and compare it to the portrait. The sitter’s intriguing smile, however, might remain a mystery.

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