Leonardo da Vinci, the son of a slave, would have been only half Italian

Leonardo da Vinci, author of the Mona Lisa and Renaissance icon, was in fact only half-Italian, a leading academic said in Florence on Tuesday, according to the genius’s mother who was a Circassian slave.

While until now Leonardo’s mother had been presented as the daughter of a Tuscan peasant, Carlo Ves, a Renaissance specialist and professor at the University of Naples, concluded from his research in the archives of the city of Florence that it had a much more painful history than the Romantic one. limit of

“She was a woman who had been abducted from her native country in the Caucasus mountains, sold and resold several times to Constantinople and then to Venice, and finally arrived in Florence where she met a young notary, Pierre da Vinci “, he explained in an interview with AFP.

“Their son is called Leonard”, says with a smile, who was inspired by this extraordinary journey, the odyssey of this hitherto unknown woman to write a novel titled “The smile of Catherine – mother of Leonardo da Vinci”. was inspired.

The discovery by this academic, who has been tracking everything related to Leonardo for years, sheds new light on this ideal of the universal genius born in 1452, who crisscrossed Italy throughout his life and died in Amboise in France in 1519. died. Court of François 1er.

This theory also promises to make a noise in the small world of experts on the Italian Renaissance, who will not fail to examine it with a magnifying glass.

But Carlo Vex bases his claim on a whole range of historical documents that he has patiently collected from the archives. “The most important is a document written personally by Pierre da Vinci, Leonardo’s father: this is the act of emancipation of Catherine”, a notarized act that allows the latter to “recover her freedom and her dignity of being human”. ” allows for.

– “The Spirit of Freedom” –

The priceless document from 1452 was presented to an international media audience during a press conference at the headquarters of the Florentine publishing house Giunti on Tuesday. Professor Wace does not fail to point out that “therefore he is the man who loved Catherine when she was still a slave and with whom he had a child who helped her gain her freedom”.

From then until now, it was believed that Leonardo was the fruit of an illegitimate love affair between Pierre da Vinci and a young Tuscan peasant girl named Caterina di Meo Lippi.

Two pages from the “Manuscripts of the Institut de France” by Leonardo da Vinci, photographed at the Villa La Loggia in Florence on March 14, 2023 (AFP – Marco Bertorello)

For Carlo Vex, the sufferings of her maidservant and “emigrant” mother clearly had an impact on the work of the brilliant Leonardo, for whom Catherine left “an important legacy and above all a sense of freedom” that would “make all his work scientific”. and intellectual.

Leonardo da Vinci is in fact one of the artists of his time who are called “polymaths”: he mastered many disciplines such as sculpture, drawing, music and painting, which he puts at the top of the arts, and certainly Science from. In the field of scientific research, “nothing stops him”, comments Professor V.C.

The story of the mother of this totem of universal culture as told by this academic enthusiast sounds almost too good to be true.

And yet this theory is “by far the most convincing”, says Paolo Galluzzi, a historian specializing in Leonardo and a member of the prestigious Lincei Scientific Academy in Rome, interviewed by AFP in Florence and who highlights the quality of the documents. Colleague provided by them. “Certainly there is at least a doubt, because we cannot prove (the theory) by DNA testing”, he admitted.

Even if he himself is not so surprised: this historical period “marks the beginning of modernity, the exchange between peoples, cultures and civilizations that gave rise to the modern world”.

(“Il sorriso di Caterina – La Madre di Leonardo” by Carlo Veese – edition Giunti)

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