It has intrigued and mystified for centuries....the subtle smile gracing one of the most famous faces in Art History, Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Who is she? Why is she smiling? Who is she looking at? We may never know, but there is a new theory that has emerged telling a story of sex and death. Art Historians have mostly agreed that the painting depicts Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine merchant Francesco del Giacondo. Opinions have varied widely on the catalyst for her expression…perhaps it was a musician or jester employed to make her smile, some say she looks androgynous or even like a vampire. Art critic Jonathan Jones has recently offered his own theory that her expression may be caused by syphilis. Jones postulates that Gherardini was recorded as having had snail water from their apothecary, which was allegedly used to treat STDs at that time. Although the ledger was from a decade after the painting was done, Jones suggests that she was already suffering from the disease at the time of the sitting. He implies that the dark shadows on her face and around her eyes along with the slight greenish light in which she is bathed suggests an air of sickness. This theory ties in with Sigmund Freud’s book on da Vinci wherein he claims that the Renaissance Master was a gay man afraid of sexual encounters who channeled the urges of his libido into artistic and scientific endeavors. We may never know the complete story behind what is arguably the most famous portraits ever created, but we can be assured that the theories will intrigue as much as her smile. View our Leonardo da Vinci prints.