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Modern Mysteries

Who was Leonardo da Vinci's mystery mother?

By T.K. Randall
May 22, 2017 · Comment icon 7 comments

Leonardo's mother has long remained a mystery. Image Credit: Raffaello Sanzio Morghen
An Oxford University professor believes he may have pieced together the identity of Leonardo's mother.
Widely celebrated for his scientific and artistic achievements, Leonardo da Vinci's genius was so vast that even today we are still learning new things about his remarkable accomplishments.

What is not so well documented however is his family background and in particular, the identity of his mother about whom little is known other than that her name was 'Caterina'.

Now though, art historian Professor Martin Kemp has revealed that Leonardo's mother was most likely Caterina di Meo Lippi - an orphan who had been seduced by a lawyer at the age of 15.

She is thought to have been living with her grandmother in an old farmhouse in the Tuscan hills.
Kemp's research has even cast doubt on the established location of Leonardo's birth - the Casa Natale in Anchiano, situated two miles from Vinci. Instead, he argues, Leonardo was most likely to have been born in the house of his paternal grandfather where he had also grown up.

The Oxford art historian's findings are to be published in an upcoming book Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting written by art researcher Dr Giuseppe Pallanti.

"Leonardo is the subject of absolutely extraordinary public interest," he said.

"So getting the reality of his life sorted out is a matter of great consequence."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (7)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by docyabut2 7 years ago
You`d think if he knew who his real mother was , he would have painted a picture of her,  the Mona Lisa?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Likely Guy 7 years ago
No. Mona Lisa came much later. :Leonardo was a polymath..
Comment icon #3 Posted by Tom the Photon 7 years ago
I'd be interested to read this research. I'm always fascinated by the wealth of information people stumble across in old libraries, collections and attics. I hope his work is more authoritative than "here's a name that matches so let's shoehorn it into Leonardo's life".  But I'm always cautious at the words "most likely".
Comment icon #4 Posted by Derek Willis 7 years ago
I thought Dan Brown said Mary Magdalene was Da Vinci's mother - or am I getting mixed up?
Comment icon #5 Posted by rod64 7 years ago
"Whatchu talkin bout Willis?"  Mary Magdalene was an associate of Jesus.
Comment icon #6 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
'Mist likely' is a good term to use in this sort of thing, it shows the researcher is acknowledging tha there's room for doubt and that their research is dealing with probability. You can rarely be sure in historical research the bst you can do is present the evidence and discuss the most ressonable interpretation of the evidence. The ones you want to watch for are those who are 100% sure.  
Comment icon #7 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
That's a bit harsh. 

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