(BPT) - Almost 500 years after the death of artist Leonardo da Vinci, the world-famous Mona Lisa painting continues to fascinate people of all ages. An estimated 6 million people view the painting each year at the Louvre in France, and many more read and study about its history and the theories surrounding the legendary work of art.
The identity of the woman
One of the most debated mysteries of the Mona Lisa is the identity of the woman behind the iconic smile. Following 12 years of investigation, academic and art historian W.N. Varvel has confirmed that the painting took place in the Italian duchy of Mantua, where da Vinci promised to paint in color the portrait of Marquesa Isabella d’Este, considered to be an intellectual prodigy.
“Leonardo made three preparatory sketches during his stay in Mantua in 1500,” says Varvel. “The key to unraveling the mystery behind the painting’s iconic woman was the discovery of the final preparatory sketch of Isabella d’Este within a private art collection in Florence. When you compare Leonardo’s final sketch to the Mona Lisa, her true identity is immediately obvious.”
Varvel explains several new theories about the Mona Lisa in his book, “The Lady Speaks: Uncovering the Hidden Secrets of the Mona Lisa” (Brown Books Publishing Group).Through illustrations and maps, he details research that identifies the woman and explains the correlation between the painting and the bible.
Hidden meaning behind symbols
Intrigue deepens around symbols hidden in the painting. In fact, Varvel has identified 40 separate symbols comprised of 15 geographic landmarks and 25 religious representations. Several of note include:
The composition of the Mona Lisa combines three separate elements: a map of the Old City of Jerusalem, a pen and ink sketch of Isabella d'Este done in 1500, and verses found in chapter 14 of the Old Testament Book of Zechariah.
The symbols within the composition of the Mona Lisa present the message contained within the 21 verses of chapter 14 of the Book of Zechariah. This message states that the Christian concept of the "New Jerusalem" will not begin on earth until women’s rights to the priesthood of Jesus Christ are recognized.
Secret of the smile
The smile of the Mona Lisa is not meant to entice viewers to ponder her physical identity, but to recognize her theological rights and what is being hidden directly behind her back. The answer to this question is the "New Jerusalem." The body of the Mona Lisa has been painted within the exact geographic markers that define the boundaries of the "New Jerusalem" as stated in Zechariah 14:10.
“Leonardo placed symbols in the Mona Lisa as tantalizing clues to reveal the theme of the painting,” says Varvel. “Each of these 40 symbols specifically correlates to a verse found within the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah. This reinforces the theory that Leonardo used this single biblical chapter as his source of inspiration. When Leonardo combined the pen and ink sketch of Isabella d’Este with the map of the Old City of Jerusalem by placing her silhouette within the boundaries of the geographic landmarks, Leonardo married the subject of the painting to its stated theme in Zechariah.”
Summarizing the findings of the research, Varvel concludes, “For 500 years, the general public has suspected that the Mona Lisa was hiding something grand and now we know what it is.”
A video by the author on “The Lady Speaks: Uncovering the Secrets of the Mona Lisa” can be found at www.theladyspeaks.com. The book is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and IndieBound.