UNTIL now it has been the secret of the quizzical smile that has enthralled the art world, but a researcher has brought the sex of Mona Lisa into question.
A male apprentice, longtime companion and possible lover of Leonardo da Vinci was the main influence and model for the painting, according to Silvano Vinceti.
The apprentice, Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salai, worked with Leonardo for more than two decades. Most art historians agree Salai was one of Leonardo's lovers.
Mr Vinceti said similarities with the Mona Lisa's nose and mouth were striking. "Salai was a favourite model for Leonardo," he claimed. "Leonardo certainly inserted characteristics of Salai in the last version of the Mona Lisa."