Leonardo da Vinci was only half Italian, as his mother was a white slave from the Caucasus region, says an ambitious new study.
It was previously believed that Da Vinci’s mother Caterina was a peasant from the Tuscan area, but a new Renaissance expert claims the truth is a bit more complicated.
Carlo Vecce, a professor at the University of Naples, told the AFP network at the launch of his new book: “Leonardo’s mother was a ‘Circassian’ slave… she was taken from her home in the Caucasus mountains, sold in Constantinople, before to arrive in Venice and then in Florence”.
In this city she is believed to have met the Italian notary Piero da Vinci, and their son was named ‘Leonardo’.
The findings of Professor Vecce – who has spent decades studying Da Vinci – are reportedly based on the archives of the city of Florence.
With his research work, he has written the book – ‘The Smile of Caterina, Mother of Leonardo’ – which also sheds light on the famous artist himself.
Among the documents found by him, there is one written by Vinci’s father, which is known as a “certificate of emancipation” for Caterina, where she is “given freedom and human dignity”.
The document dates from 1452 – which is the year of Vinci’s birth – and was presented yesterday at the press conference of the Giunti publishing house in Florence.
The letter said it was written “by the man Caterina loves, the father of her son, who helped give her freedom,” says Vecce.
Historians had previously suspected that Leonardo’s mother came from outside Florence and that da Vinci himself had received no formal education, which would have made it easier for him to follow in his father’s footsteps in the profession.
But in fact he started his career in the studio of the famous Florentine painter Verrocchio.
By the age of 18 he had become a member of the prestigious association of painters and dressed in lace and wore long wavy coiffures.
Professor Vecce believes that the difficult life of his immigrant mother had its effects on the work of his brilliant son.
“Caterina left Leonardo a great legacy, the spirit of freedom that motivates every intellectual in scientific work,” he says.
During his lifetime da Vinci should have become famous for engineering designs, music, architecture, sculpture and military machinery.
He is known for the thoughtless designs of airplanes and helicopters at the time, several centuries before the first flight of these machines.
While among his anatomical discoveries, he made known the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain.
On his death Da Vinci left the notes to his young pupil Francesco Melzi, which were not published until some 200 years after the master’s death.
A new researcher says that Leonardo da Vinci was only half Italian, as his mother was a white slave from the Caucasus region.