The Mystery Behind Mona Lisa


Length: 52 min
Format: HD 16:9
Language: German, French, English
Directed by: Maria Magdalena Koller
TV co-producer: SR/ARTE, EPO Film Vienna, D4 Rome, RTR
Year: 2011

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous painting in the world. It hangs in the Louvre, as every one knows. Her real name as far as art historians are concerned is “La Gioconda”, as recorded by Giorgio Vasari the chronicler of the Renaissance, in his diary. Named thus because it was Francesco del Giocondo, a rich Florentine merchant, who commissioned the portrait of his wife, Lisa del Giocondo.

But for many years there have been doubts. It has never really been exhaustively explained why Leonardo never handed over the work to the commissioner, if it was indeed a portrait of the latter’s wife. Or why the man never demanded the portrait from the artist, who was already considered a genius during his lifetime and was highly remunerated.

A painting by him would have represented a substantial financial investment, and it seems illogical that someone would forgo that voluntarily. Unless the merchant never received the portrait because it was never finished. But in that case the MONA LISA is not Lisa del Giocondo, but someone else entirely.

Pursuing the issue, one fetches up in the milieu of Pope Leo X, the Medici pope. One lands in the court of the infamous Borgia in Rome and that of Ludovico Sforza in Milan. The search for the true identity of the person portrayed turns into a veritable detective story behind the scenes of power and genius.

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