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Mona Lisa could be a man

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She is one on the most recognisable women in history, but it could be that the model in Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was in fact a man and the painter’s lover.

Mona LisaThe model’s real identity has remained shrouded in mystery witha silk merchant's wife, Lisa Gheradini, being seen as the most likely model for the painting.

But nowSilvano Vincetti, chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, has made his startling revelation.

He claims that the model’s identity is that ofa young man called Gian Giacomo Caprotti, also known as Salai.

Salai and da Vinci worked together for 25 years and is believed to be the inspiration behind several of the Renaissance artist's works.

According to Vincetti the pair had an ‘ambiguous’ relationship and that forensic evidence backed up his claims.

"Close examination of a high-quality digital copy of the portrait had revealed an L for Leonardo and an S for Salai," he said.

The findings have been refuted by French art historians at the Louvre museum in Paris, where the Mona Lisa is one of the centre's star attractions.

Experts at the Louvre say they checked the painting two times in 2004 and 2009 saying: "No inscriptions, letters or numbers, were discovered during the tests.

"The ageing of the painting on wood has caused a great number of cracks to appear in the paint, which have caused a number of shapes to appear that have often been subject to over-interpretation."

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