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Decoding Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

Last updated on: December 13, 2010 23:49 IST

Decoding Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

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A fresh look at the Mona Lisa portrait has revealed that artist Leonardo da Vinci has hidden some tiny letters and numbers in the dark paint of the masterpiece pupils.

Experts say the barely distinguishable letters and numbers represent something of a real-life Da Vinci code.

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Image: The Mona Lisa

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"To the naked eye the symbols are not visible but with a magnifying glass they can clearly be seen," the Daily Mail quoted Silvano Vinceti, president of Italy's National Committee for Cultural Heritage, which spotted the symbols, as saying.

"In the right eye appear to be the letters LV which could well stand for his name, Leonardo da Vinci, while in the left eye there are also symbols but they are not as defined.

"It is very difficult to make them out clearly but they appear to be the letters CE, or it could be the letter B.



Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters
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Decoding Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

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"In the arch of the bridge in the background the number 72 can be seen or it could be an L and the number 2. You have to remember the ­picture is almost 500 years old so it is not as sharp and clear as when first painted.

"From the preliminary investigations we have carried out we are confident they are not a mistake and were put there by the artist," Vinceti added.



Photographs: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters
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Decoding Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

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The search was initiated by another device after a fellow committee member discovered a musty book in an antique shop referring to symbols in the Mona Lisa's eyes.

Vinceti added: "Da Vinci put a special emphasis on the Mona Lisa and we know that in the last years of his life he took the painting with him everywhere.

"We also know that da Vinci was very esoteric and used symbols in his work to give out messages.

"Who knows, they may even ­possibly be a love message to the ­figure in the painting."



Photographs: Albeiro Lopera/Reuters
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Decoding Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

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The woman with the enigmatic smile is commonly thought to be Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant.

But Vinceti believes the painting was created in Milan and says the woman may be from the court of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan.

Vinceti, who earlier this year exhumed bones believed to belong to the painter Caravaggio, says he is studying historical records in an effort to identify the subject of the famous painting.


Photographs: John Gress/Reuters
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Decoding Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

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The painting, which has long been steeped in mystery with the true identity of the sitter far from certain, was featured in the Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code.

The lead character interprets secret messages hidden in the Mona Lisa and Leonardo's other works, including The Last Supper.


Photographs: Francois Lenoir/Reuters
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