Italian researchers have discovered tiny letters on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa portrait, which they believe will shed light on who the model was. Silvano Vinceti of Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage explained in interviews that the letters can easily be seen with a magnifying glass and can be seen on her eyes.
“Invisible to the naked eye and painted in black on green-brown are the letters LV in her right pupil, obviously Leonardo’s initials, but it is what is in her left pupil that is far more interesting,” said Vinceti.
“It is very difficult to make them out clearly, but they appear to be the letters ‘CE’, or it could be the letter ‘B’. You have to remember the picture is almost 500 years old so it is not as sharp and clear as when first painted.”
He added that the number ’72’ or “L2” can be seen on the arch of the bridge in the background of the portrait, and that “on the back of the painting are the numbers ‘149’, with a fourth number erased, suggesting he painted it when he was in Milan in the 1490s, using as a model a woman from the court of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan.”
The small marks would have been painted with a tiny brush. Vicenti explained that they decided to research this after reading about an observation by another art historian that Mona Lisa’s eyes were full of signs and symbols. His book had been written over fifty years ago, but his findings forgotten.
“Leonardo was keen on symbols and codes to get messages across, and he wanted us to know the identity of the model using the eyes, which he believed were the door to the soul and a means for communication,” added Vinceti.