Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500.  La Joconde (Detail), Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.
Mona Lisa or La Joconde? 

An accurate title for Leonardo’s masterpiece.


    Leonardo da Vinci, did not openly reveal the title of his famous painting.  He did not publicize the identity of the subject, nor identify his mysterious subject in his volumes of notebooks.  Leaving behind a mystery with his death in the spring of 1519. 


    The first owner of the portrait was the King of France, Francis I, when he inquired about the paintings title.  The reply received from Leonardo’s assistant was La Joconde.  Leaving the first clue to the mystery.  The original title La Joconde translates as The Jocund, an adjective meaning Joyful, Agreeable, and Helpful.  Creating a search for friends of Leonardo considered helpful or agreeable.  One of Leonardo’s lifelong friends was the Marchioness of Mantua, Isabella d’Este. 


    Isabella a prolific art patron from northern Italy, known today as the “First Lady of the Renaissance.”  Isabella hired Leonardo to paint her portrait in 1498.  In 1500 Leonardo leaves Milan after an invasion of French forces.  He stays in Mantua for three months.  He begins the portrait of Isabella, while living at her castle for the winter, creating two sketches of Isabella in order to create a painted portrait from the images.  The remaining sketch Leonardo produced that winter, hangs in the Louvre and mirrors the painting that follows.  


    On April 14th, 1501, Isabella is contacted by Fra. Pietro de Novellara, he writes to Mantua concerning her inquiry about the progress of the portrait Leonardo is creating for her.  Responding, he had visited with Leonardo on Ash Wednesday and was told by Leonardo, “he was most eagerly inclined to please Your Excellency by reason of the kindness you showed him at Mantua.”  Expanding, “he would rather serve Your Excellency than anyone else in the world.”


    In 1503, three years after the sketch is created in Mantua, the painting is observed in Florence by a city official inspecting the studio provided to Leonardo.  The face in the portrait still unfinished Leonardo continues to work on the uncompleted masterpiece.  In 1506, Leonardo is allowed permission to return to his vineyard in Milan, from the ruling French government.  Leonardo takes Isabella’s portrait with him and continues work on the painting.  Isabella visits Leonardo freely in Milan adjacent to lands Isabella ruled in Mantua.  Leonardo continues work on her portrait and finishes Isabella’s painted portrait during his residency in Milan. 


    When the power struggle over Milan resumed between France and Italy in 1512.  Leonardo, once again, is forced to abandon this vineyard in Milan.  Leonardo took refuge in Rome, working for the new Medici Pope, Leo X.  Isabella follows Leonardo and stays in Rome as a guest of the Pope.  At her husband’s command she returns to Mantua where she writes, “I am here in Mantua but all my heart is in Rome.  At least I can feel that I have obeyed and satisfied my husband…My body is here, as I repeat, but my soul is there!”


    In Bologna, the Medici Pope and conquering French King assemble to determine terms of peace in 1515.  Leonardo was paid by the Medici to attend the meeting, where his services were offered to the invading French King, Francis I.  The Italian master prepares for his foreign appointment in the court of the French King.  In this notes Leonardo writes, “The Medici made me, and destroyed me.”


    Leonardo left for his term at the French court in 1516, with Isabella’s portrait at this side.  During this time, Isabella’s son Federico is studying at the court of the French King.  Leonardo makes a sketch of the young Duke's court festivities.  Isabella visits France the summer of 1517 with an entourage.  Visiting with her son, Federico II Gonzaga, and Leonardo both staying at the court of King Francis I. 


    Leonardo’s next is visited by Cardinal d’Aragon, creating the last record of the painting while Leonardo is living in 1517.  The Cardinal instructs his secretary, Antonio de Beatis, to document the final clue of the painting.  Cryptically recording in Leonardo’s studio in France was a portrait of a “Lady of Lombardy is painted in oil, from life, quite beautiful.”  


    Cardinal d'Aragona was the first cousin of Isabella d’Este, through their grandfather the King of Naples, Ferdinand I d’Aragona.  The “Lady from Lombardy” in the portrait in Leoanrdo’s studio was his cousin, Isabella.  She ruled Mantua in Lombardy.  She was painted from life by Leonardo at his vineyard in Milan.  After stopping to view Leonardo’s “Last Supper” in Milan.  The Cardinal d’Aragona visited with Isabella in Mantua on his return route to Rome. 


    Leonardo last communication to Mantua from France was recorded by Isabella's envoy Rinaldo Ariosto in October of 1517.  He described the golden lion Leonardo had designed for the King of France.  A robot which walked across the room, bowed and opened his chest to offer a bouquet of flowers.  The letter to Mantua, explains the lion was blue on the inside, which according to Leonardo symbolized Love.   


    Leonardo dies at Amboise still in the service of the French King.  There is little evidence, indicating how the painting was acquired from the estate of the late Leonardo.  What is clear is that the French King obtains the portrait of Isabella, known as “La Joconde.” 


    It was displayed in the restricted halls of the Palace of Fontainebleau.  Hidden from the public, scholars and authors for centuries.  Until the creation of the art museum housed in the Louvre Palace a result of the French Revolution.  The former palace was used to publically display the treasures of the French monarchy, including Leonardo’s, La Joconde and the matching sketch he had made of Isabella at her castle in Mantua.


    Leonardo’s original title for the portrait known by the first owner of the painting King Francis I, La Joconde is still used in France where the portrait is housed.  In Italy where the painting was created the portrait title is translated into La Gioconda.  The last will and testament of Leonardo found in Milan today, lists the portrait as Jocunde.  Lending verification to the French and Italian title's authenticity.  


    English speaking countries refer to the portrait by the historically incorrect misnomer “Mona Lisa.”  That was not assigned to the physical painting until 1608, nearly a hundred years after the death of Leonardo.  Creating confusion of subject in the painting, originally and internationally known as La Joconde.


    The interpretation of the painting title La Joconde is “The Jocund”; an adjective meaning lighthearted, helpful, joyous and cheerful.  A title befitting of one of Leonardo's rare friends, Isabella.  A lifelong patron of his art, benefactor, champion, friend and muse.  Isabella, is recognized today as the “First Lady of the Renaissance.”  A fitting collaborator for the original “Renaissance Man” to portray in his famous portrait that in time would become the most celebrated painting in the world. 


 Leonardo's Painted Portraits, 

Measurements, Imagery and Chronology.

    Leonardo a prolific genius spent his time and energy engaged in the study of several fields.  Giving rise to the concept of the “Renaissance Man,” a person extraordinarily talented in multiple and diverse subjects.  His time was devoted to natural sciences, anatomy, astronomy, geometry, hydrodynamics, engineering, military strategy, architecture, mechanics, geography, aeronautics, physics, invention, philosophy and the arts. 

    Diversifying his interests left him less time devoted to creating fine art, in contrast to some of his contemporaries, like Raphael or Michelangelo.  Leaving behind a smaller quantity of masterpieces more complex in nature.  In his collection of masterpieces, Leonardo created three painted portraits indisputably attributed to the great master; 1) Portrait of Ginerva de’ Benci, 2) Lady with an Ermine, and 3) La Joconde.

    Portrait of Ginerva de’ Benci was Leonardo’s first known portrait.  While the subject is debated, the composition is a painted portrait of a young lady.  The smallest of Leonardo’s portraits at just 15 inches by 14 9/16 inches.  It is thought to have been created in Florence between 1474 and 1478.  The portrait is currently housed in Washington at the National Gallery of Art.

    The second Lady with an Ermine is a painted portrait from Milan.  The subject is recognized as Cecilia Gallerani, through the exchange of letters between Isabella d’Este and the subject in the portrait.  Slightly larger than the first portrait, Lady with an Ermine is 21 inches by 15 inches.  

    Painted while Leonardo was working for Ludovico Sforza, Isabella’s brother-in-law, the portrait is thought to have been created between 1489 and 1490.  It was undoubtedly finished by the time Isabella writes to Cecilia, April 26, 1497 asking to borrow the painting.  In order to decide whether or not to hire Leonardo for Isabella’s own painted portrait.  

    The third La Joconde is the last known portrait created by Leonardo, and he never parts with the painting.  The portrait is of a distinguished lady hands gracefully folded in front of a dynamic natural landscape.  It is by far the largest portrait Leonardo created, larger than the other two portraits combined, and measures 30 inches by 21 inches.  It is housed in the Louvre where millions of visitors every year admire the masterpiece created by Leonardo.    

    The dimensions of the subject in the portrait, La Joconde, match perfectly with the sketch Leonardo made of Isabella d’Este for her painted portrait in 1500.  The painting is first recorded in 1503, three years after the sketch of Isabella was made by Leonardo.  Forming a parallel between the size of the sketch of Isabella and creating an appropriate timeline of her painted portrait, resulting from the sketch Leonardo created of Isabella in order to generate her portrait.

    The veil seen in the portrait La Joconde, was a fashion found in the region of Lombardy, where the city of Mantua is located.  This style was called the Lombardy Line and can also be seen in the sketch Leonardo makes of Isabella in 1500.  Correlating the regional style found in the portrait La Joconde with the initial sketch of Isabella and Lombardy, where she ruled.  

    Mantua found in Lombardy, can be seen in the background in Leonardo's portrait of Isabella.  The view in the portrait is approximate 4000 feet, above the city of Mantua looking north to the Italian Alps.  Leonardo centuries ahead of his time and undeniably fascinated with flight, painted an aerial view of Mantua in his great masterpiece.  Not until 2012, when aerial photography was studied could the intention of Leonardo be understood and revealed.  Illuminating the previously unknown landscape in the famous portrait.

    Leonardo fascinated with flight, painted a view of his dream created with innovative geometry.  Centuries before man would be able to lift from the ground to see or understand his intention.  Man's quest to fly, captured in Leonardo’s famous masterpiece.  Leonardo paints Lombardy in the portrait, from Lake Garda in the East, to Lake Iseo in the West, South to Mantua and the Wetlands of the Mincio Park and North to the Italian Alps in the distance.  These lands Isabella cherished and envelop the subject in the portrait created by Leonardo, a befitting framing for the ruler of Mantua.

    Additionally, the sketch Leonardo created of Isabella reveals pinholes punched along the outline of her image, for the purpose of pouncing.  A method commonly used during the renaissance to transfer a sketch before painting it.  Holes were punctured along the lines of the drawing of Isabella.  Laid over the poplar panel and dusted with charcoal.  The dust passing through the series of holes, would have formed corresponding dots on the surface below.  Leonardo used this dotted outline as a guide for the composition of Isabella’s portrait.  Explaining why the subject in the sketch of Isabella and the subject in the portrait La Joconde are the exact same size.

    These visible pinholes reveal Isabella’s sketch was used to create a painted portrait by Leonardo.  Isabella’s sketch mirrors the painting in subject, the pose, the regional background and the local fashion.  The size of the subject is identical in the sketch and the painted portrait both by Leonardo.  The timing of the sketch Leonardo made of Isabella and the portrait La Joconde that followed.  All synchronize to validate, Leonardo used the sketch of Isabella d'Este to create the painting that ensued, which Leonardo had promised to create for Isabella.

    The sketch of Isabella corresponds perfectly with the subject in the portrait Leonardo created, La Joconde.  Distinct from the other subjects Leonardo was hired to paint, Leonardo and Isabella remain friends throughout his lifetime, as he travels everywhere with her painted portrait.  The travels of Isabella herself mirror Leonardo for nearly thirty years. 

    Beginning with the time of their first introduction at her sister’s wedding Beatrice d’Este to Leonardo’s patron, Ludovico Sforza in January of 1491.  Isabella visited Milan freely where Leonardo was working.  After her sister’s sudden death in Milan in 1497, Leonardo visits Mantua a number of times between 1497 and 1500.  Finally staying at her castle for three months, when he produces the two sketches of Isabella for her portrait in 1500. 

    When Leonardo found patronage in Florence she followed in 1506.  Isabella visited Leonardo in Milan when he was given permission to return to his vineyard.  She followed him to Rome when Leonardo accepted the patronage of the Pope in 1515.  And she visited Leonardo and her son Federico Gonzaga who were both staying at the French Court of Francis I in 1517.  Where Leonardo passed away at the age of 67.  In all this time Leonardo never parted with her image and the now famous portrait, La Joconde.  While Isabella herself was never far behind her esteemed and lifelong friend, Leonardo.

    The measurement and chronology correlation, complements the visual connections between the sketch Leonardo made of Isabella and the portrait, La Joconde.  The countenance in her sketch and the painting are matching, the famous hand positioning from the sketch and the painting are identical.  The size of the sketch and the subject in the painting are the same and the sketch precedes the painting it was created to produce.  The regional style found in the sketch of Isabella and the portrait are indistinguishable.  The backdrop in La Joconde, is a painted landscape of Mantua, befitting Isabella, the ruler of Mantua.  Pinholes found in the sketch Leonardo created of Isabella demonstrate it was used to create a painted portrait that followed by Leonardo.  And the lifelong friendship seen in the correspondence, travels and mutual admiration attest to Leonardo keeping his vow to produce not only a portrait of Isabella, but a masterpiece that would in time become the most famous painting in history.  

 How Leonardo Created La Joconde? 

A Polymath Masterpiece.

    Leonardo was hired by Isabella in 1498 to create a painted portrait.  Isabella a famous art patron from a family of royal art patrons, created a contest to find the best portrait painter of the high renaissance.  Her finalists were narrowed to Bellini and Leonardo.  In April of 1497, Isabella writes to Cecilia Gallerani requesting to borrow the portrait Leonardo had created, known today as Lady with an Ermine. 

    Cecilia sent the portrait to Isabella with the rider who had delivered the message.  In her castle at Mantua Isabella compares the portrait created by Leonardo with portraits by Bellini from her own collection.  In this comparison Isabella rightly declares Leonardo to be the superior portrait painter.  She hires Leonardo for the coveted position to capture the beautiful and powerful young lady in a painted portrait. 

    In 1499 France invaded Milan and overthrew her brother-in-law, Ludovico Sforza.   The French King and the Pope’s son, Cesare Borgia, rode into Milan triumphantly.  Ludovico was imprisoned by the invading forces and Leonardo was freed of his patron in Milan. 

    Isabella traveled to Milan to appease the conquering French King, Louis XII.  She requested the King allow fleeing Milanese sanctuary at her castle in neighboring Mantua.  Louis appeased by Isabella’s humility and grace agreed to peace with Mantua and her request to shelter fleeing Milanese from French occupied Milan. 

    That winter Leonardo stayed at Isabella’s castle with other former Milanese.  Included in this assembly was Luca Pacioli, the famous mathematician Leonardo had studied Geometry with in Milan.  The two master’s created the book "De Divina Proportione" for Ludovico Sforza.  Before taking refuge at Isabella’s castle in Mantua. 

    Leonardo undertook the task of creating Isabella’s portrait, she had hired him to create.  Leonardo made two exquisite sketches of the young Marchioness, now twenty-five years old and pregnant with her first son, Duke Federico II Gonzaga.  Leonardo traveled onto Venice with the thawing snow in the spring of 1500.  Taking one of the two sketches he had made of Isabella with him in order to begin the painted portrait. 

    Leonardo displays the sketch he had made of Isabella in Venice and word gets back to her via Lorenzo da Pavia.  He wrote to Isabella on March 13, 1500, “Leonardo da Vinci is in Venice, he has shown me a portrait of Your Ladyship that is very lifelike.  It is very well done and could not possibly be better.”  Shortly after, Leonardo is ordered into the service of Pope Alexander VI.  The Pope’s son Cesare Borgia, who had helped overthrow Milan, starts a military campaign through Italy.  Using Leonardo as a military strategist and engineer, he is tasked to create detailed maps for reconnaissance.  Leonardo draws the doomed cities from above, the Borgia intended to invade. 


    Leonardo fascinated with this bird’s eye perspective.  He envisions framing Isabella with the lands she loved around Mantua.  Fashioning a view of flight Leonardo had long be fascinated to achieve.  Adapting an aerial view of the homelands of Isabella as a backdrop for her painted portrait.  Leonardo creates an innovative method of geometry to form an accurate view of Lombardy from above.   


    Leonardo combined the overhead view from his work as a military engineer with his studies with the great mathematician, Pacioli, to create a view of flight over Mantua in Lombardy.  Using geometry’s Pythagorean Theorem, Leonardo was able to determine the aerial distance to nearby landmarks in Mantua, by applying a stationary altitude and the ground distance.  Factoring the missing hypotenuse would reveal the distance from the landscape to the stationary altitude.  Scaling down these figures to fit the composition of his painted portrait.  He would know where to paint the natural features of Lombardy into the painting to create a realistic view of flight in the painted portrait.


    Leonardo uses the sketch of Isabella he was traveling with to transfer her image for her painted portrait.  Using the renaissance method of pouncing.  Leonardo pokes pinholes along the outline of the sketch he had made of Isabella.  Transferring the image in the sketch to the poplar panel below, by tapping charcoal over the open pinholes of the sketch. 


    This method is seen alone the outline of the sketch Leonardo made of Isabella via visible pinholes seen in the sketch of Isabella.  Additionally, the sketch of Isabella and the image of the subject in the painted portrait, La Joconde, are the exact same size.  Demonstrating the subject in Leonardo’s sketch of Isabella and the subject in Leonardo’s painted portrait La Joconde were the same person. 

    Leonardo returned to Milan by permission of the French government in 1506.  Where Isabella visited with Leonardo.  He continues painting her in person, where the portrait develops a depth and complexity unparalleled by any other master.  Capturing the beauty and serenity of the famous art patron, Isabella.

    Leonardo creates his complex portrait of Isabella, with a diversity reserved for the great master known to be a polymath genius.  Applying inventive mathematics, military reconnaissance, intricate sketches, pouncing, unparalleled painting and profound vision.  Leonardo constructs the most famous portrait in history.  Admired by Kings and Emperors, the collaboration of Isabella and Leonardo, becomes the most famous portrait in the world.   

 Timeline of La Joconde, 

Leonardo and Isabella's Lifelong Friendship.

1482- Leonardo moves to Milan to work for the Regent, Ludovico Sforza, ruling on behalf of his nephew, Duke Gian Galeazzo Sforza.

1490- Ludovico asks to marry Isabella d'Este, he is refused by her father.  In 1490 she marries the Marquis of Mantua, the Captain of the Papal Armies, Francesco II Gonzaga.  Instead Ludovico is offered the hand of her sister Beatrice.

1490- Isabella begins collaborations with Andrea Mantegna, a court painter in Mantua and one of the great masters of the renaissance.

1491- Ludovico marries Isabella's sister Beatrice d'Este.  Leonardo helps design the festivities here he meets Isabella for the first time. 

The wedding party including Isabella and Leonardo travel together from Milan to Ferrara, where Isabella's brother Alfonso III d'Este marries Anna Sforza. 

1494- The Duke of Milan Gian Galeazzo Sforza dies suddenly and Ludovico becomes Duke of Milan. 

1496- Leonardo designs the presentation of a play in Pavia, called Il Timone, and dedicates it to Isabella. 

1497- Isabella's sister Beatrice falls ill and dies in Milan. 

1497- Leonardo travels to Mantua with musical instruments and architectural plans for Isabella's bath suite. 

1497- Isabella borrows Lady with an Ermine from Cecilia Gallerani, to determine who to hire for her own painted portrait.  

1498- Isabella declares Leonardo the winner of her contest of portrait painters.  She commissions Leonardo to paint her portrait. 

1499- Leonardo moves to Mantua after the French invasion of Milan. 

1500- Leonardo living at Isabella's castle.  Creates two sketches of Isabella, mirroring her painted portrait to follow.  Leonardo takes one of the two sketches with him as he travels onto Venice.

1500- Leonardo makes drawings of the Villa Toviglia for Isabella's husband, and offers advice to Isabella on the purchase of antique vases.

1501- Leonardo writes to Isabella via Fra Pietro da Novellara, "He is hard at work on geometry."  Factoring geometry used for the landscape in her portrait, La Joconde. (April 4, 1501)

1501- Leonardo writes again to Isabella via the same envoy (April 14, 1501) "His mathematical experiments have so greatly distracted him...He was most eagerly inclined to please Your Excellency by reason of the kindness you showed him at Mantua...He would rather serve Your Excellency than anyone in the world...He will do the portrait immediately."

1501-1506- Isabella and Leonardo communicate through envoys and letters while Leonardo is away from Milan.   

1503- Isabella's painted portrait is recorded in Florence by Agostino Vespucci.  The face still unfinished, conveys an ongoing project by Leonardo. 

1506- Isabella visits Florence and the home of Leonardo's uncle, Alessandro Amadori, the Canon of Fiesole. 

1506- Leonardo returns to his vineyard in Milan.  Isabella follows Leonardo to Milan where he finishes her portrait from life.

1507- Leonardo asks Isabella's brother Ippolito d'Este in Milan for help with a lawsuit in Florence.

1515- Milan is invaded and Leonardo leaves his vineyard for the perceived safety of the patronage of the Medici Pope in Rome.

1515- Isabella follows Leonardo to Rome, where she is hosted by Pope Leo X.  She returns to Mantua where she writes "I am here in Mantua, but all my heart is in Rome."

1515- Leonardo is paid by the Medici to attend the peace negotiations between the Pope and the invading French King, Francis I.  Leonardo's service is offered to the French King.  

1516- Leonardo leaves for France.  Bringing Isabella's finished portrait with him.  Leonardo writes "The Medici made me and destroyed me."

1517- Isabella follows Leonardo to France with an entourage.  Visits her son Federico II Gonzaga and Leonardo both staying at the court of the French King, Francis I.  Where her style and fashion makes an impression on the ladies of France.

1517- Isabella's envoy in the French Court, Rinaldo Ariosto, cousin of the famous Ludovico Ariosoto, relays the lion Leonardo created.  Painted blue on the inside, which according to Leonardo symbolized Love.   

1517- Isabella's cousin Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona visits Leonardo's studio.  Where his secretary Antonio de Beatis records Isabella's portrait in Leonardo's studio.  "A certain Lady from Lombardy is painted in oil from life, quite beautiful."  The Cardinal stops to visit with his cousin Isabella at Mantua in Lombardy, before returning to Rome.

1519- Leonardo dies in the service of France; the French King, Francis I, becomes the owner of Isabella's portrait.  Referring to the painting as La Joconde. 

1519-1539- Isabella continues her avid patronage of the arts.  Commissioning masters Raphael, Correggio, and Titian.  Including other painters, craftsmen, musicians and poets.

1539- Isabella dies in Mantua and is buried in the family mausoleum. Later destroyed by invading forces.  

1550- Vasari writes a book on the history of the renaissance, under the guidance of Cosimo de Medici, in Florence.

1608- Father Pierre Dan applies Vasari's story to the physical painting at the Palace Fontainebleau in France, falsely renaming the painting the "Mona Lisa."  Father Dan records the sketch of Isabella by Leonardo is likewise housed at the Palace of Fontainebleau. 

1789- The French Revolution overthrows the French Monarchy. 

1793- The Louvre Palace is transformed into a museum of art.  Included in the collection are the former possessions of the French Royalty and the portrait of Isabella, La Joconde

1799- Napoleon becomes the First Consul for the French Consulate.  While the Louvre is closed for renovations, Napoleon hangs Isabella's portrait in his bedroom at the Tuileries Palace in Paris.  Declaring her to be the "Sphinx of the Occident." 

1804- The Louvre reopens and the portrait of Isabella, La Joconde, is displayed in the new museum for public view. 

1911- The portrait is stolen from the museum and taken to Florence. 

1913- Isabella's portrait was returned to the Louvre and the thief stood trial in Florence. 

1939- The Nazi invasion of Paris, forced the painting into hiding.  Whisked away in an ambulance, Isabella's portrait was hidden throughout WWII by brave admirers of Leonardo. 

1945La Joconde is returned to the Louvre where it can be viewed today.  Down the corridors from the matching sketch Leonardo created of Isabella.  Where millions of visitors view the beauty of Leonardo's masterpiece.

2005- Dr. Armin Schletcher at the Heidelberg University Library found a note from 1503 by Agostino Vespucci referring to a painting in Leonardo’s studio he was told was “Lisa del Giocondo.”  Without further exploration it was generally presumed Vespucci’s note supported Giorgio Vasari’s book from 1550.  Claiming one of Leonardo’s subjects to be the Lady Lisa.  In Italian is Lady Lisa is translated as the Mona Lisa coining the colloquial, while erroneous term the “Mona Lisa.”

2012- Anne Farnsworth, a trained artist with education in art history at the university, noticed the sketch Leonardo created of Isabella mirrored the portrait, La Joconde.  Her fascination with aerial photography lead to the discovery, the previously unidentified landscape in La Joconde was a view of flight above Mantua.  An appropriate theme for Leonardo and backdrop for Isabella the ruler of Mantua.

2012- Next, Farnsworth decoded the mathematics Leonardo used to create his accurate view of flight.  Recognized in her youth as a math prodigy, she uncovered the mathematical formula Leonardo used in a groundbreaking way.  Applying the Pythagorean Theorem he factored the distances between natural features around Mantua to the stationary altitude of his painting.  Creating an accurate view of flight centuries ahead of his time.  Emphasizing Leonardo’s warning, “Let no man who is not a mathematician read the elements of my work.”

2013- Extensive research revealed the finding at Heidelberg in 2005 did not verify Vasari’s story of Lady Lisa, as first assumed.  It exposed the previously unknown source of Vasari.  Vasari as a young man had lived with Vespucci's family in Florence in 1524.  Clarifying how Vasari learned his erroneous subject.

Additionally, why the name “Lisa del Giocondo” Vespucci transcribed in 1503, was not mentioned in Vasari’s publication.  No lady in Florence named “Lisa del Giocondo” could be found.  Instead Vasari assumed it was Lisa Gheradini, adding the wrong name to his book and giving rise to the erroneous subject.

2013- Farnworth after studying numerous texts in Italian, deciphered Leonardo’s wordplay “Lisa del Giocondo.”  The Italian phrase “Lisa del Giocondo” Vespucci heard in Leonardo’s studio, confessing in his writings the face in the portrait was not yet painted.  Vespucci heard what he thought was “Lisa,” was instead “L’ Isa.” 

Producing the Italian phrase “L’ Isa del Giocondo.”  The direct translation of the phrase is "The Isa of La Joconde."  Conveying the portrait in Leonardo’s studio was The Isa“bella” of La Joconde, the authentic subject and original title of her portrait.  Leonardo well-known for his wordplays, throughout his lifetime preserved the secret of his mysterious subject.

Present- Years of persistent research, objective analysis, the creation of visual aids and public communication.  Led to a growing following of scholars, historians and authors, convinced Isabella d'Este is indeed the subject in Leonardo's portrait, La Joconde.  This contemporary theory, supported by physical evidence, continues to gain acceptance in the field.


The Portrait La Joconde, 

An First Lady of the Renaissance and the Renaissance Man.


    La Joconde portrays Isabella d’Este, “First Lady of the Renaissance.”  Her hands folded in calm repose, framed by her homeland in Lombardy.   Leonardo the original “Renaissance Man,” found fascination in numerable subjects.  Including the visionary concept of man being able to fly.  

    Leonardo imagined designs for helicopters, parachutes and airplanes.  Here in his famous painted masterpiece, Leonardo envisions flight over northern Italy, the Alps and the Lake District of Lombardy.  Revealing to the world a landscape, like his inventions, that was centuries ahead of its time. 

    The golden bridge, Leonardo paints as a focal point, the San Giorgio Bridge of Mantua, guides the viewer to the San Giorgio Castle, home of Isabella.  Where Leonardo found protection, and patronage from a young beautiful ruler of northern Italy.  Here respect, friendship and patronage of Leonardo da Vinci flourished. 

    Isabella's portrait painted by the greatest artist in history, the inspiring Leonardo da Vinci.  Captures the mutual admiration between the great lady, Isabella d’Este, the “First Lady of the Renaissance” and an unparalleled master, the genius Leonardo da Vinci. 

by Anne Farnsworth 


La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

Portrait of King Francis I, 
Joos van Cleve, 1532-1533.

Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500. 

Portrait Medal of Isabella d'Este, Giovanni Cristoforo Romano, 1495-1498.

Portrait of Leo X with two Cardinals, Raphael, 1517.

Portrait of Federico II Gonzaga, Francesco Francia or Raphael, 1510.

The Royal Chateau at Amboise.

Replica of the Lion Leonardo made in France. 

The Death of Leonardo da Vinci, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1780-1867.

Palace of Fontainebleau.

The State Archives in Milan. 

Allegory of Isabella d'Etse's Coronation, Lorenzo Costa the Elder, 1505-1506.

The Triumph of the Virtues, Andrea Mantegna, 1502.

Self Propelled Car
Leonardo da Vinci, 1478.

Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, Leonardo da Vinci, 1474-1478.

Lady with an Ermine, Leonardo da Vinci, 1489-1490.

La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516. (Overlay) Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci 1500. 

(Detail) Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci 1500. (Detail) La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

(Detail of Pinholes), Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500.

(Detail) Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci 1500. (Detail) La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

(Detail) Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci 1500. 
(Colored) Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci 1500. 
(Detail) La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

A Standing Masquerader, Leonardo da Vinci, 1517-1518. 

"This drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) can be dated to his last years in France, in the service of the young King Francis I. This was a period of extravagant festivals at the French court; detailed descriptions survive, by the Mantuan secretary Stazio Gadio, of the entertainments held in January 1518 in honour of the young Federico Gonzaga of Mantua."
(Isabella's Son)

(Colored) Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci 1500. (Detail) La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

Madonna della Vittoria
Andrea Mantegna, 1496.

(Detail) Lady with an Ermine , Leonardo da Vinci, 1489-1490.

Louis XII, King of France, Workshop of Jean Perreal, 1510-1514.

Luca Paccioli, Jacopo de' Barbari, 1495.

Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

Portrait of a Gentleman (thought to be of Cesare Borgia), Altobello Melone, 1500-1524.

               Map of Imola
       Leonardo da Vinci, 1502.

Bird's Eye View of a Landscape, Leonardo da Vinci, 1502..

Geometry from Hammer Codex, Leonardo da Vinci, 1506-1513.

(Detail of Pinholes), Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500.

Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, Francesco Melzi, after 1510.

Pala Sforzesca, Master of the Sforza Altarpiece, 1494-1495.

Alfonso d'Este, Dosso Dossi, 1486-1534.

Winter in Mantua, Italy.

Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500.

Margin Note,  
Agostino Vespucci, 1503.

Ippolito d'Este, Bartolomeo Veneto, 1502-1531.

School of Athens
Raphael, 1509-1511.

(Detail) Allegory of Isabella d'Este's Coronation, Lorenzo Costa the Elder, 1505-1506.

Federico II Gonzaga
Titian, 1525.

Funerary Monument of Francesco II Gonzaga, Raphael, (Copy by Giovanni Francesco Penni) 1519.

Napoleon at the Pont d'Arcole, Antoine-Jean Gros, 1796.

La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516. Unwrapped after WWII. 

Illustration in De Divina Proportione, Leonardo da Vinci, 1496-1498.

(Detail) La Joconde, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500-1516.

Reproduction of Studiolo of Isabella d'Este, Mantua Castle. (IDEA)

San Giorgio Castle, 
Mantua, Italy.

Helicopter, Leonardo da Vinci, 1487. 

Flying Machine from the Codex of Flight, Leonardo da Vinci,

The Bridge in La Joconde, San Giorgio Bridge leading to the San Giorgio Castle in Mantua. 

Portrait of Isabella d'Este (detail), Leonardo da Vinci, 1500.  Leonardo da Vinci, (detail) Francesco Melzi, 1515.