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On the lipomas of Leonardo and the identity of Mona Lisa

Detail of Leonardo's Mona Lisa, (1503-1506)
Louvre Museum, Paris.

Detail of Leonardo's self-portrait (1516)
Biblioteca Reale, Torino.
The image has been mirrored and slightly rotated to match Mona Lisa's portrait.


On the same line of thought the ThinkQuest site Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling? describes the morphing between the two portraits, created by Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs (Scientific American, April 1995, p. 106)



Lisa Venerosi belongs to a noble family of Pisa and her well-developed art of command is inherited. Under her push I was scrambling to find irrefutable proofs that her crucifix was actually a product of Leonardo' s genius. Much of the magic of renaissance paintings derive from the fact that they are similar to mathematical theorems. Using a shape of basic elegant proportion, i.e. the golden ratio, a sort of fractal grid was constructed and the first two or three fractal levels were used to frame the figures. The nodes of the grids appear in hierarchical importance and the objects the painter wants to stress are located in nodes of high hierarchical weight.

These grids have various bases of construction, more or less derived from the golden ratio, and I thought they could serve to classify and somehow identify the artists through them. Having identified the type of grid necessary, fitting it is a tedious operation as the painting may not be perfectly aligned or perhaps it was reduced through cuts, as it happens with the Mona Lisa, so that the borders do not match. This labour and the hope for the click that tells the grid has fallen into place, implies a forceful attention to the details of the painting. In this way I observed that the beautiful Mona Lisa had two ugly lipomas right at the root of her nose. They appear as two small bubbles of fat under the skin.

Lipomas are fairly common defects of the skin but the most beautiful woman of the world should not have them. So I went to the Kunsthistorische Institut in Florence where they have a collection of photos of Mona Lisa, to check. In all photos the lipomas are evident, and, as a curiosity, in one of them, made at the turn of the last century, the photographer tried to scratch them out. Moreover they were located in a very high rank node of the grid. So they should be there and were carrying a message. I thought the simplest one, they were marks of recognition about the person.

The idea is looming that Mona is actually Leonardo in disguise, therefore my first move was to look at Leonardo's self-portrait in Turin. The lipomas were actually there, but on the other side of the nose. Self-portraits are traditionally executed in front of a mirror, even if Leonardo could make his portrait from memory. I think this very simple observation is the best proof that Leonardo wanted to represent himself as the most admired of the feminine beauties. He was gay after all, and had a strive to be the best.

Incidentally the X rays of the painting show a bearded person that is not Mona Lisa nor Leonardo and that I could identify later as the Nibbio, the first rapist of Leonardo, who finally transformed him into the she-gay he was, i.e. a quasi-woman. The warped imagination of Leonardo did put the three together in his most admired painting.