Ippolita was the mother of Isabella di Aragona (1470-1524), who is also known as “Isabella of Aragon” or “Isabella of Naples”. You may have never heard of Isabella di Aragona, but perhaps you have seen her portrait numerous times: it is argued that Isabella is the model for Leonardo da Vinci‘s immortal painting, the Mona Lisa.
[ Is she Isabella di Aragona? ]
I am more than happy to leave that speculation to the art historians.
The bust of Ippolita Maria Sforza
- she may be the Mona Lisa.
- she may also be the model for the bust believed to be of her mother’s.
- she may even have been married to Leonardo da Vinci and given birth to his children.
To make things even more confusing and uncertain, there’s also Ippolita Sforza (born in 1481), who was the daughter of a cousin of Isabella di Aragona! Don’t laugh: this younger Ippolita Sforza had a daughter who was also named Ippolita!! This is truly a biographer’s nightmare.
If the bust was indeed crafted in 1488, it’s practically impossible that the model is 7-year old Ippolita Sforza. Therefore, for the sake of clarity, when I say “Ippolita Sforza” I mean Ippolita Maria Sforza.
3-D model of the bust
Art History may be fascinating, but I am more interested in technology. What led me to write this post is that there’s a 3-D model of the bust of Ippolita Maria Sforza. The bust was scanned by the Visual Computing Lab of the ISTI – CNR. The original 3-D model has 500K faces (each face is a polygon, a triangle to be precise) and is available at this model gallery (it can also be found here). You can download the 500K model in two formats:
- PLY format (ZIP file – 5.11 MB)
- 3DS format (ZIP file – 5.14 MB)
You can visualize and process these models using MeshLab, for example. There are other software tools, such as VRMesh Studio, but I like MeshLab because it is free, open source, and very user-friendly.
Visualizing the 500K model with MeshLab, we have:
[ 500K model rendered with smoothed mesh polygons ]
This model’s mesh is quite fine. A coarser model would allow us to see the triangle mesh on the model’s surface. MeshLab comes with a sample 50K model (in PLY format) of the bust of Ippolita (a decimation by a factor of 10 of the original 500K model). This 50K model looks like:
[ 50K model rendered with flat mesh polygons ]
Taking a closer look one can see the triangle mesh more clearly:
[ close-up of Ippolita's face (50K model) ]
I really like meshed models. I don’t know why.
I used VRMesh Studio to export both these models in point cloud format (a ASCII text file where each row contains the 3 coordinates of each point in the cloud). This might come handy if I ever feel like processing the point cloud in MATLAB.