The 19th C. aesthete par excellence Walter Pater wrote the classic line about Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa:
She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave; and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her; and trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants: and, as Leda, was the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne, the mother of Mary; and all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives only in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing lineaments, and tinged the eyelids and the hands.
Yesterday, German researchers (who have to take the mystery out of everything) have identified the model for the Mona Lisa, making her that much more human and less legend:
Experts at the Heidelberg University Library say dated notes scribbled in the margins of a book by its owner in October 1503 confirm once and for all that Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, was the model for one of the most famous portraits in the world. (source)
This is a snapshot of the 16th C. manuscript with the handwritten notation.