The panorama behind Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has sparked infinite debate, with some artwork historians suggesting the view was imaginary and idealised, and others claiming varied hyperlinks to particular Italian places.

Now a geologist and Renaissance artwork historian believes she has lastly solved the thriller in one of many world’s most well-known work. Ann Pizzorusso has mixed her two fields of experience to counsel that Leonardo painted a number of recognisable options of Lecco, on the shores of Lake Como within the Lombardy area of northern Italy.

Pizzorusso has matched Leonardo’s bridge, the mountain vary and the lake within the Mona Lisa to Lecco’s 14th-century Azzone Visconti bridge, the south-western Alps overlooking the world and Lake Garlate, which Leonardo is understood to have visited 500 years in the past.


The similarities are simple, she mentioned. “I’m so enthusiastic about this. I actually really feel it’s a house run.”

Earlier theories have included a 2011 declare {that a} bridge and a highway within the Mona Lisa belong to Bobbio, a small city in northern Italy, and a 2023 discovering that Leonardo had painted a bridge within the province of Arezzo.

However specializing in the bridge, she mentioned, wasn’t sufficient. “The arched bridge was ubiquitous all through Italy and Europe and lots of regarded very comparable. It’s unimaginable to determine a precise location from a bridge alone. All of them discuss in regards to the bridge and no one talks in regards to the geology.

Ann Pizzorusso believes that Leonardo painted a number of recognisable options of Lecco which is on the shores of Lake Como. {Photograph}: Courtesy of Ann Pizzorusso

“Geologists don’t have a look at work and artwork historians don’t have a look at geology,” she added. “Artwork historians mentioned Leonardo all the time used his creativeness, however you can provide this image to any geologist on this planet they usually’ll say what I’m saying about Lecco. Even a non-geologist can now see the similarities.”

She famous that the rocks in Lecco are limestone and that Leonardo depicted his rocks in a grey-white color – “which is ideal, as a result of that’s the kind of rock that’s there”. She added that, in contrast to Lecco, neither Bobbio nor Arezzo has a lake: “So we now have actually excellent proof at Lecco.”

Her earlier Leonardo analysis has concerned learning each variations of the Virgin of the Rocks – the one within the Louvre in Paris, and the duplicate within the Nationwide Gallery in London. Till 2010, the Nationwide Gallery believed the one it had was primarily the work of assistants however, after restoring it, declared it attainable that Leonardo painted all the image himself.

Pizzorusso’s evaluation of the vegetation and geology within the panorama across the central figures revived the controversy. She concluded: “The botany within the Louvre model is ideal, displaying vegetation that will have thrived in a moist, darkish grotto. However the vegetation within the London model are inaccurate. Some don’t exist in nature.”

She famous that Leonardo had all the time impressed on his college students the significance of depicting nature precisely. For her newest Mona Lisa analysis, she visited Lecco, tracing Leonardo’s footsteps: “We all know from his notebooks that he spent numerous time exploring the Lecco space and the territory additional north.”

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Pizzorusso has matched Leonardo’s bridge to Lecco’s 14th-century Azzone Visconti bridge. {Photograph}: Courtesy of Ann Pizzorusso

Michael Daley, director of watchdog ArtWatch UK, mentioned of Pizzorusso’s findings: “As a result of she has bona fide scientific data, when she notices issues in Leonardo – essentially the most scientific artist ever – they’re momentous.

“Artwork historians all speculate on the place the Mona Lisa was painted. Anyone who sees a bridge thinks it was there. However Pizzorusso has compellingly pinned down the placement with proof of Leonardo’s presence within the space, its geology and, in fact, a bridge.”

Jacques Franck, a former Leonardo guide to the Louvre, mentioned: “I don’t doubt for one second that Pizzorusso is correct in her idea, given her excellent data of the geology of the Italian nation – and extra exactly of the locations the place Leonardo travelled in his lifetime, which may correspond to the mountainous panorama within the Mona Lisa.”

This weekend Pizzorusso will ­current her proof at a geology convention in Lecco.

“I’m truly euphoric about these findings – and there’s a near-certain risk that Leonardo painted [the landscape] from the precise spot the place we’re holding our convention,” she mentioned.


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