Mystery of the Identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mother Discovered

Despite being one of the world’s most famous artists, some facts about Leonardo da Vinci’s life remain shrouded in mystery. One major question regarding the prolific painter and original Renaissance man is the identity of his mother. Now, a prominent art historian believes he may have solved this mystery regarding da Vinci’s parentage.

We have always known that Leonardo’s mother’s name was Caterina, but other than we knew little about her. There has even been speculation that she was a North African slave. Using previously overlooked documents, art historian and da Vinci expert Professor Martin Kemp of Oxford University has revealed that many of these speculations were false.

ichef.bbci.co.uk

According to this newly analyzed evidence, Leonardo’s mother was Caterina di Meo Lippi, a poor peasant orphan who was only 15 when she became pregnant with the future artist. She had been living with her grandmother in a remote village in Tuscany when she was seduced by a 25-year-old lawyer named Ser Piero da Vinci.

Leonardo was born when his mother was 16, on April 14, 1452. Caterina was living with an aunt and uncle at this time and would have been in dire straits since being unmarried, pregnant, and poor were about as socially low as you could get in those days.

Even though he was illegitimate, he was probably brought up by his paternal grandfather. Professor Kemp drew this conclusion after studying the tax records of the senior da Vinci, which stated that an illegitimate son was living in his house. If this is correct, then Leonardo da Vinci was raised in good circumstances, since his father’s family was prosperous. It appears that his father acknowledged Leonardo as his son, too, since he was allowed to call himself Leonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci, which indicated his father’s identity.

Leonardo’s mother eventually married a farmer named Antonio di Piero Buti, and she went on to have at least five more children. Ser Piero also married someone else, likely someone of his own social standing.

This research has also resulted in a slightly funny conundrum for Leonardo-loving tourists. If the artist was raised with his paternal grandfather, then these tourists who have been visiting the supposed birthplace of Leonardo, the Casa Natale in Anchiano, have been going to the wrong place. Kemp believes Leonardo da Vinci was actually born in his paternal grandfather’s home, which is the same place he grew up.

Sadly, a great deal of money has been spent turning the Casa Natale into a major tourist attraction. There is no word yet as to what will be done to the site if it turns out that Kemp’s theories are true.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Weird Food of the Middle Ages

    People often like to romanticize the Middle Ages, imagining it as a time of knights and princesses, all dressed in elaborate medieval garb. Some even dream about going back in time to experience life during that time, and renaissance fairs and a popular dinner show have capitalized quite well on this obsession. But many people...

    Read More
  • Witches and Alewives: The Historical Connection

    From The Wizard of Oz to Halloween costumes, the archetypal image of a scary witch typically includes a tall, pointy hat, a cauldron, and a broom, among other accessories. But where did this popular conception arise? Many would be surprised to learn that our idea of what a witch looks like is based on the...

    Read More
  • America’s Secret Female President

    Edith Bolling Galt Wilson seemed an unlikely prospect for running one of the most powerful countries in the world. The second wife of President Woodrow Wilson was born in 1872 to a very poor family from the mountains of Virginia. Though she was given a chance to go to college, she dropped out because her...

    Read More
  • The Reality Behind the Legend of the Golden Fleece

    If you are familiar at all with Greek mythology, you have probably heard about the legend of the Golden Fleece. In this story, Jason (a Greek mythological hero) gathered a group of fellow-heroes together. This group became known as the Argonauts because their ship was named Argo, and Jason was their leader. The purpose of...

    Read More
  • Aaron Burr: Would-Be King

    Aaron Burr, one of the United States’ founding fathers and its one-time Vice President, has generally gone down in history as a bad guy because of the duel in which he killed Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury. But for some reason, most people don’t know anything about another chapter in his life...

    Read More
  • Ancient Crocodile Species Identified

    A research team made up of paleontologists from Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Texas has identified a previously unknown species of prehistoric crocodile. The ancient reptile fossils were found in Arlington, Texas, a busy city located right in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. The massive crocodile, which could reach lengths of up to 20...

    Read More
  • The Murder and Lynching that Changed America

    April 26, 1913 was supposed to have been a good day for 13-year-old Mary Phagan. It was Confederate Memorial Day in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lived. She was off for the day from her job at the National Pencil Company. Her plans included stopping by work to pick up her pay and then joining family...

    Read More
  • Female Viking Warrior Grave Identified

    In the 1880s, a Viking grave was excavated in the town of Birka in Sweden. It was obviously the grave of a warrior because it was filled with grave goods signifying as much. Along with weapons, like an axe, arrows, shields, a battle knife, a spear, and a sword, two war horses were also found...

    Read More