337 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970
Dianne Hales, author of the new book, Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, will lecture on her discoveries at the Salem Athenaeum on May 21.
A genius immortalized her. A French king paid a fortune for her. An emperor coveted her. Every year millions of visitors trek to view her portrait in the Louvre. Yet for five centuries, all that the world knew was her smile.
Intrigued by new findings confirming the identity of Leonardo’s model, I set off on a personal quest for the flesh-and-blood woman in the world’s most praised and parodied painting. Who was she, this ordinary woman who rose to such extraordinary fame? Why did the most renowned painter of her time choose her as his model? What became of her? And why does her smile enchant us still?
Mona Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, we now know with as much certainty as possible after the passage of half a millennium, was a quintessential woman of her times, caught in a whirl of political upheavals, family dramas, and public scandals. Descended from ancient nobles, she was born and baptized in Florence in 1479. Wed to a truculent businessman twice her age, she gave birth to six children and died at age sixty-three in 1542.
Lisa’s life spanned the most tumultuous chapters in the history of Florence—decades of war, rebellion, invasion, siege, and conquest. Her story creates an extraordinary tapestry of daily life in a time poised between the medieval and the modern, a vibrant city bursting into fullest bloom, and a culture that redefined the possibilities of man—and of woman. –Dianne Hales
Dianne Hales is a widely published, award-winning freelance journalist. She has served as a contributing editor for Parade, Ladies Home Journal, Working Mother and American Health and has written for many national publications, including Family Circle, Fitness, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Health, Mademoiselle, McCall’s, New York Times, Psychology Today, Readers’ Digest, Redbook, Science Digest, Self, Seventeen, Washington Post, Woman’s Day, and World Book.
Dianne’s trade books include La Bella Lingua, Think Thin, Be Thin, Just Like a Woman, Caring for the Mind and MONA LISA: A Life Discovered. She also is the author of the best-selling college health textbook, An Invitation to Health, and coauthor of An Invitation to Personal Change.
She has received writing awards from the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, an “EMMA” (Exceptional Media Merit Award) for health reporting from the National Women’s Political Caucus and Radcliff College, three “EDI” (Equality, Dignity, Independence) awards for print journalism from the National Easter Seal Society, the National Mature Media Award, Arthritis Foundation, California Psychiatric Society, CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity), Council for the Advancement of Scientific Education, and the New York City Public Library.
Dianne is married to Robert E. Hales, M.D., chair of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis, and has one daughter, Julia. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.