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Leonardo DaVinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ - the Irish connection

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Sure if President Obama has Irish ancestry why not Leonardo DaVinci's 'Mona Lisa'? The model for this iconic painting, Mona Lisa Gerhardini, has links to the Irish family name Fitzgerald.

According to geraldini.com, Mona Lisa's "family name is perpetuated to the present day in the Fitzgerald family, Fitz-the son of, Gerlad the Normanized form of Gherardini."

The connection can be explained through Dominus Otho Gherardini who travelled to Normandy, with a caravan of Norman knights in 1056. The website explains “Otho, whose name is sometimes spelled,

Othere or Otho, was a member of the Florentine family, the Gherardini. He came to the court of King Edward the Confessor in about 1056, ten years before the Norman Conquest of England.”

He then joined the invasion of England. After the Battle of Hastings he was given land in England. His son Walter FitzOther is mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086.

About a century later his Norman descendants settled in Ireland. They were known as the Fitzgeralds.
From the 1500s letters discovered showed correspondence between the Fitzgerald's of Kildare and their cousins in Florence. In 1506 the Earl of Kildare wrote "to all the family of the Gherardini, noble in fame and virtue, dwelling in Florence, our beloved brethren in Florence.”

His letter was signed "GERALD, Chief in Ireland of the family of Gherardini, Earl of Kildare, Viceroy of the most serene Kings of England in Ireland.”

The Mona Lisa Gerhardini in question would have been alive when this letter was written (15 June 1479 – 15 July 1542). It is believed that the famous portrait was painted just three years earlier. In fact she may even have been aware of her Irish roots at the time.

This week the BBC reported that there are plans to exhume Mona Lisa's remains. According to the report "Art historian Silvano Vinceti believes that by locating the remains of Lisa Gherardini, he can prove whether or not she was the artist’s model … Using scientific techniques, Vinceti says he hopes to extract DNA from the skull of Gherardini – the wife of a rich silk merchant – and rebuild her face.”
 

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