Biography, history, and memoir are woven together in Hales’ (La Bella Lingua, 2009) lyrical biography of Lisa Gherardini, the donna vera (real woman) captured in Leonardo da Vinci’s early sixteenth-century masterpiece, Mona Lisa. Hales paints a vivid history of the dramatic, often violent Renaissance Florence in which Gherardini lived: a town populated with scheming politicians, warring religious factions, and artists boasting rock-star popularity. Intertwined with this tale is Gherardini’s personal biography as a daughter, a merchant’s wife, a devoted mother, and a family matriarch—a story that provides counterpoint to the epic, male-dominated history of the age. The verifiable facts of Gherardini’s life are scarce, so Hales leans heavily on “informed imagination,” delving deeply into the customs, rituals, and relationships that governed women’s lives in Renaissance Italy. Throughout the book, she scours archives, interrogates scholars, and walks the streets of Florence, seeking traces of Gherardini in detail and in spirit. These first-person accounts reveal the author’s deep kinship with Gherardini, and her quest endows human subjectivity to one of art history’s greatest icons. –Lindsay Bosch –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.