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“Radical and refreshing.” Review—Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting by Martin Kemp and Giuseppe Pallanti

The sober truth about the Mona Lisa’s origins is explored in this new book

By Alastair Smart   July 2017

Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting by Martin Kemp and Giuseppe Pallanti (OUP, £19.99)

According to some art historians, she was the artist’s assistant, Salaì, dressed in drag; according to others, she was a prostitute. Or perhaps the mistress of Giuliano de’ Medici, or even an extra-terrestrial. There’s a seemingly endless supply of theories about who Leonardo da Vinci’s sitter for the Mona Lisa was. Da Vinci scholar Martin Kemp and archival researcher Giuseppe Pallanti say that’s because people believe “such a famed and fascinating image must have originated in extraordinary circumstances.”

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