Is Mona Lisa a Gay Man?

mona lisaLeonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is easily the most recognizable painting in the world. It’s commonly believed that she is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, but a mere glimpse of that slim smile opens up a world of interpretations.

Is there a special code hidden beneath the paint? Is she really a self-portrait? Is she a mistress immortalized?

The answer: Yes and no.

As it turns out, it’s highly likely that she’s based on one of Leonardo da Vinci’s many lovers. A male lover. 


People are shocked by this new allegation. After all, it dashes to pieces most of what we’ve always believed about that mysterious woman. But is it really that shocking? It’s actually pretty anti-climactic. There’s no great scandal involved. No big drama.

So Da Vinci had a gay lover. So what? Seriously, who didn't back then, especially if you had ready access to gorgeous young men? Mix in a free (and slightly crazy) spirit and it’s no wonder. The man was hardly a monk. We know he was struck by great passions -- who cares what the passion was for?

So he used the young Gian Giacomo Caprotti as a model for tons of paintings and sketches. How is that surprising? The boy was clearly a muse for Da Vinci. Every artist needs something to inspire him. And a muse for Da Vinci means amazing, wondrous art for the rest of the world. If he appeared in so many other pieces, is it any wonder that at least parts of him might make their way into the Mona Lisa?

Why wouldn’t Da Vinci immortalize someone he cared for and obviously found beautiful? Artists routinely pull from a variety of sources for their work -- a beautiful Roman nose from one man, the posture of a woman -- works are more often amalgamations than just a single image.

Of course, there’s the chance the researcher putting forth this theory is completely crazy himself. He did say that there were secret codes painted into the Mona Lisa’s eyes, after all. And just a few months ago, he claimed that the Mona Lisa was a woman in the court of an Italian noble. So, yeah, there’s that. But it’s also totally romantic, in a way, to imagine Da Vinci painting pieces of the man he loved into one of the most famous women of all time. 

What do you think of this new theory? Is it shocking or just bunk?


Image via Joaquin Martinez Rosado/Flickr

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