To celebrate the release of Castle of Whispers, the first mystery in the Secrets of the Quilt series available here, I decided to post about a character in my book, the great Leonardo and his iconic painting, Mona Lisa. The picture above is not the one in the Louvre, it is an earlier version and appears to be of a younger woman.
Castle of Whispers features an antique quilt, with the oldest swatch rumored to have belonged to the Mona Lisa's dress. The first thing I researched was when exactly Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa we all know and love. In 1503, he was living in Florence and worked on the painting, so that became my date. During that time, he also worked on an ill-fated mural in the Palazzo Vecchio, so I included that incident in the story.
The story is set in a fictional village outside Florence, Ponte San Vincenti, or Saint Vincent's Gate, .symbolizing the area's wine-making heritage. My main character is a seamstress and her assignment is to make a wedding dress for Lisabetta Donati, a miserable bride-to-be. And...yes, the future Mona Lisa. How that happens I will save for readers.
Lisa del Giocondo, a merchant's wife. My question is: why then did Leonardo keep the portrait with him all the rest of his life? And now that earlier versions have been discovered, it only deepens the mystery. To the left is a crop of the painting above. Isn't she beautiful? I enjoyed exploring the mystery of her identity in my novel.