( dpa )- A German expert has confirmed the real identity of Mona Lisa after centuries of speculation about the woman in Leonardo da Vinci's famous portrait.
It is Lisa Gherardini , wife of a Florentine cloth merchant named Francesco del Giocondo , said Viet Probst , director of the Heidelberg University Library.
Probst confirmed Friday a German television report which said the discovery was made two-and-a-half years ago by the head of the university's handwriting department.
The expert discovered a reference to the Mona Lisa's identity in a hand-written reference on a document that belonged to the painting's early owner.
The owner was a contemporary of da Vinci and was in regular contact with him, according to the television programme .
There has been lots of speculation about who the sitter was for the portrait, which was painted in Florence between 1503-1506 and now hangs at the Louvre in Paris.
Most experts believed it was the wife of del Giocondo , hence its alternative title, La Gioconda , although this was never conclusively proved.