Is she enjoying a private joke? Is she sneaking a sly glance at an unseen lover? Or is the glint in the Mona Lisa’s eye in fact the result of a build-up of fatty acids around her eye socket, a sure sign that she was not watching her cholesterol?

An Italian medical expert claimed that Leonardo da Vinci's smiling model in the 16th century oil painting had a xanthelasma, a cholesterol deposit, in the hollow of her left eye.

Vito Franco, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Palermo, said he found evidence of a range of afflictions in some of the world’s greatest works of art.

He claimed that there are clear signs of diseases, from bone malformations to kidney stones, that cast certain icons of perfection in a very different light.

Professor Franco, who presented his findings at a European congress on human pathology in Florence, told The Times that he had begun studying art masterpieces for evidence of disease and illness two years ago.

"I look at art with a different eye from an art expert, much as a mathematician listens to music in a different way from a music critic," he said.

He added that he had analyzed about 100 art works, from Egyptian sculpture to contemporary paintings but his focus, he told La Stampa, was on Old Masters.

SOURCE LINK: Times of London