«Mona Lista is from Milan: she’s Bianca Sforza, Ludovico The Moor’s daughter. And Leonardo painted her older»

Theories about the true identity of the mysterious Mona Lista of Leonardo are numerous: the debate has been going on for centuries about who was the most famous woman in the world of art and about the place where the genius from Vinci decided to portray her. According to Carla Glori – independent researcher in art and literary critic – the bridge visible to the left of Mona Lisa’s shoulder is the «Gobbo bridge» of Bobbio, the symbol of the town in the vicinity of Piacenza. And the woman is Bianca Giovanna Sforza, illegitimate and then legitimized daughter of Ludovico the Moor, promised as a bride when still a child to Galeazzo Sanseverino; she died at a very young age (1482-1496) only six months after the celebration of the wedding. The painting was to be his bridal portrait.

The number 72

Carla Glori he devoted much of his life to the study of Leonardo’s pictorial work. Author of books and articles, she has also published many of her writings online, which can be consulted on research platforms. «The news of the existence of the number “72” under the Mona Lisa Bridge (discovered by Silvano Vinceti in 2010), was then relaunched by me in association with the Gobbo bridge, which I had identified as the one of the portrait. This was met with controversy at the time. Whether the number exists or not it is not essential to the identification of the Bobbio bridge made by me, which is based on historical and architectural elements and technical drawings for its lengthening. Back then, it had five irregular arches and structural features quite similar to the bridge painted by Leonardo».

The proof of reflectography

«At the time – continues Glori – I had observed that there was a documented historical connection between the number “72” and the Gobbo bridge: in fact the bridge had been overwhelmed by a flood of the Trebbia just in 1472 and the large arch – corresponding to the one under which I saw the number in the painting – in reality presented a cluster of rocks at that very point: it was not repaired until 1509. I had concluded that it was a date set by the painter in memory of that flood or maybe to get someone to identify that famous bridge. What convinced me is the fact that that number is also seen in reflectography, but still today I’m not able to say in all certainty whether it exists or not, because it could be a joke of the destiny, caused by the “craquelures” with which that painting is rife».

The design of the “hidden” arch

The proof that the expert defines “attack-proof”, instead, with regard to the bridge, consists in the drawing of an arc, visible in reflectography only, as it was covered by Leonardo with a layer of color. «This is a discovery communicated to the Louvre in 2012. The arc is traced at the exact point where you can see the Gobbo bridge from the castle’s window, identified by the research as ”the point of view on the landscape” of the Mona Lisa. Leonardo then depicted the bridge a little further and “straightened” it to paint it at its best and in full, since (as it can be seen on the spot) it appeared to him askew and too angled. It is understandable that the identification of the Boggo bridge at the time raised disputes and skepticism, because no one before had connected Leonardo to the Trebbia valley, a strategic territory, in hindsight not at all marginal for the history of the Sforza and for the connections that gradually emerged with Leonardo in his first stay in Milan. It should be emphasized that to the Gobbo bridge must one must add thirteen other landscape landmarks respectively matching in the painted background and in the real panorama framed from the “point of view” fixed at the castle’s window».

The discovery of paleontologists

This year an international team of paleontologist has discovered on Bobbio’s territory the icnofossils that appear in the Leicester code: a further confirmation of the thesis on the location of the landscape, as the presence of Leonardo on site is proven.

Bianca, the Moor’s daughter, and her mysterious death

«Both on the Bobbio’s localization of the landscape and on the historical reconstruction, which leads back to the Sforza feud with the family of Pietro Dal Verme (the Lord of Bobbio poisoned at the order of the Moor in 1485, Editor’s Note), I’m planning this year the publication of a book with a lot of news. That place, until then placed at the margins of Sforza’s history, is linked to the biography of Bianca, the Moor’s firstborn, and to that of her husband Galeazzo Sanseverino, who was a patron of Leonardo during his first stay in Milan. Both had as dowry the goods expropriated by the Moro from the Dal Verme family and the young man died a mysterious death six months after the wedding, perhaps for the obscure intrigue courtier which Muratori mentions in his Antichità Estensi, calling into question Francesca Dal Verme (daughter of count Pietro). The available archive papers have so far given no answers about this intricate “Sforza’s detective story” and you probably will never be able to figure it out».

The “aging” of the Mona Lisa

And Bianca would be the woman in the picture. The scientist Pascal Cotte in 2014 had announced the discovery of the portrait of a younger woman underneath the Mona Lisa, a discovery that awaits official confirmation from the Louvre: in this case, that would validate Carla Glori’s 2010 hypothesis about the “aging” and the transformation made by Leonardo on the model, the not yet fifteen Bianca Giovanna Sforza. After his escape from Milan, Leonardo had to hide her identity as the daughter of the Moor, by now defeated and banned.

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