Italian novelist: Leonardo's da Vinci's mother was a slave

Streaming HUBMarch 15, 2023

MILAN (AP) — An Italian scholar and novelist has provided fresh fodder for an age-old debate over the identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother, who recently learned that she may have been born in Italy as a slave from the Caucasus region of central Italy. reached the peninsula. Asia.

Carlo Weiss, an Italian literature professor at the University of Naples Lorientale, has revealed his theory in a new novel, “Il sorriso di Caterina,” or “The Smile of Caterina.” He based his claim on a document discovered in the State Archives in Florence, which granted freedom to a girl named Caterina.

Leonardo’s father notarized the record six months after the birth of the Renaissance genius, who painted masterpieces including the “Mona Lisa.”

Weiss said that he was originally intent on proving that Leonardo’s mother was not a former slave, a long-held theory. “But when the evidence goes in the other direction, attention should be paid,” he said.

He said that he chose to put his research into a novel and not a scholarly text because he felt the need to share his theory with a wider public. “I can joke that no one reads a book with footnotes and a bibliography,” said the author.

Martin Kemp, an Oxford University professor emeritus of art history, co-authored a 2017 book that identified Leonardo’s mother as the 15-year-old orphan Caterina di Meo Lippi. He said that he continues to support the theory that the girl who gave birth to the master painter and inventor was a “rural mother”.

“Many claims have been made that Leonardo’s mother was a slave,” Kemp said in a statement to The Associated Press. “It fits Leonardo’s need to find something extraordinary and exotic in his background, and an episode of slavery fits with the current obsession.”

The art historian suggested that the document may not be conclusive.

It was Leonardo’s grandfather who, according to Kemp, revealed his mother’s name to Caterina. Caterina was a common name given to slaves when they were forced to convert to Christianity, and in Weiss’s document the husband of the woman who freed the girl traded two slaves with that name in one year. Did it, Kemp said.

Kemp both admired Weeks’ work as a scholar and expressed surprise that the Italian professor published his findings as a fictional account.


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