Was Leonardo da Vinci’s mother Arab?

Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an ermine

From New Kerala in India:

Da Vinci’s mother may have been a Middle Eastern slave

Washington, Oct 30: Hidden clues which lie deep within Leonardo da Vinci‘s paintings and writings have finally revealed a 600-year-old secret: the Italian genius could have been of Arabic descent.

Italian researchers have now claimed to have pieced together evidence from the artist’s work which confirms suspicions that he was the son of his father’s female Arab slave.

The scientists analysed partial fingerprints found on canvases and his notebooks, and compared them to one of the few full fingerprints known to have been da Vinci‘s, which he left on the famous Lady With An Ermine.

Dr Luigi Capasso and his colleagues from the University of Chieti in central Italy discovered that the print matches a pattern commonly found in the Middle East.

“It is actually the first evidence of Leonardo’s corporeality,” Discovery News quoted Capasso as saying.

The painter, engineer, mathematician, philosopher and naturalist was earlier thought to have been the son of an Italian craftsman and a local peasant girl.

The analysis of the fingerprint patterns instead fits a theory unearthed through documentation discovered in 2002 by Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale in the Tuscan town of Vinci where the artist was born, that Leonardo’s mother was a slave of Middle Eastern descent.

Analysis of the fingerprint patterns, a science known as dermatoglyphics has shown that there is a link between fingerprints and populations.

“The fingerprint features patterns such as the central whorl that are dominant in the Middle East. About 60 percent of the Middle Eastern population display the same dermatoglyphic structure found in the fingerprint,” Capasso said.

The father of Leonardo da Vinci, Ser Piero, was 25 years old and a public legal representative when Leonardo was born in 1452.

In the same year, Ser Piero married his first wife Albiera.

He didn’t marry the mother of Leonardo, because she was the daughter of a farmer and not from a wealthy family.

The mother of Leonardo was called Catarina.

“It was common in 15th century Tuscany to own slaves from the Middle East,” said Vezzosi.

In 1452, the same year of Leonardo’s birth, a law was passed in Florence that gave slave owners greater rights over their slaves.

Shortly after the law was passed, Ser Piero married Caterina off to one of his workers.

See also here.

Or was Leonardo´s mother a Jewish slave? See here.

Leonardo and astronomy: here.

The Others: Gypsy and Muslim Slaves in Early Modern Europe: here.

14 thoughts on “Was Leonardo da Vinci’s mother Arab?

  1. 2007-04-23 16:30
    Mona Lisa birthplace found
    Scholar completes map of Leonardo muse’s life
    FLORENCE (ANSA) – The birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has been located in her home town, Florence.

    Leonardo scholar Giuseppe Pallanti says documents show she was born in a house that once stood on Via Sguazza, a side-street of Via Maggio, where Florence’s antiques dealers do their trade.

    Pallanti also says he has found the house where Lisa Gherardini lived after marrying wealthy merchant Francesco Del Giocondo, a patrician building in the famed San Lorenzo area. Pallanti, who has been poring through the city’s archives for decades, has now tracked down all three of the most significant places in the life of Lisa Gherardini.

    In mid-January the researcher said he had tracked down her burial place to the former Convent of St Orsula, in the heart of the city.

    Lisa Del Giocondo died in the convent after retiring there near the end of her life. Unveiling his latest discovery, Pallanti said his research had wiped away all doubt about the identity of La Gioconda, as the Italians call the Mona Lisa because of the surname of her husband, Giocondo.

    “It was her, Lisa, the wife of the merchant Francesco Del Giocondo – and she lived quite close to Leonardo in San Lorenzo, at the end of what is now Via della Stufa,” Pallanti said.

    Most modern scholars have agreed with Pallante that the Mona Lisa sitter was Lisa del Giocondo.

    The couple were married in 1495 when the bride was 16 and the groom 35.

    It has frequently been suggested that del Giocondo commissioned Leonardo to paint his Mona Lisa (mona is the standard Italian contraction for madonna, or “my lady,”) to mark his wife’s pregnancy or the recent birth of their second child in December 1502.

    Although pregnancy or childbirth have frequently been put forward in the past as explanations for Mona Lisa’s cryptic smile, other theories have not been lacking – some less plausible than others.

    Some have argued that the painting is a self-portrait of the artist, or one of his favourite male lovers in disguise, citing the fact that Da Vinci never actually relinquished the painting and kept it with him up until his death in Amboise, France in 1519.

    The most curious theories have been provided by medical experts-cum-art lovers.

    One group of medical researchers has maintained that the sitter’s mouth is so firmly shut because she was undergoing mercury treatment for syphilis which turned her teeth black.

    An American dentist has claimed that the tight-lipped expression was typical of people who have lost their front teeth, while a Danish doctor was convinced she suffered from congenital palsy which affected the left side of her face and this is why her hands are overly large.

    A French surgeon has also put forth his view that she was semi-paralysed, perhaps as the result of a stroke, and that this explained why one hand looks relaxed and the other tense.

    Leading American feminist Camille Paglia simply concluded that the cool, appraising smile showed that “what Mona Lisa is ultimately saying is that males are unnecessary”.



  2. 2007-07-25 13:49
    Mona Lisa ‘had fatty blood’
    Tell- tale swellings on skin says Belgian expert
    (ANSA) – Brussels, July 25 – The Mona Lisa suffered from a serious metabolic disease that made her blood fatty, according to a Belgian doctor.

    Jan Dequeker, a rheumatology lecturer at the University of Lovinio, reckons that the enigmatic woman who has fascinated the world for centuries suffered from a disease called hyperlipemia.

    Hyperlipemia is a lifestyle disease caused by over-eating and lack of exercise. Blood levels of lipids (fats) such as cholesterol are too high, leading to serious health risks.

    Dequeker, an art buff, says he took a close look at the Mona Lisa and found evidence for the disease in areas of swollen skin.

    “There is a swelling on her left hand which shows a build-up of subcutaneous lipids, as does the puffiness around her left eye,” Dequeker told ANSA in a telephone interview.

    Dequeker said his theory was supported by the usual age of onset of the disease in women, 30-35 – “the age which international experts believe Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa”.

    The new theory is not the first advanced by medical experts-cum-art lovers. The Mona Lisa’s famous smile has led to endless speculation.

    One group of medical researchers has maintained that the sitter’s mouth is so firmly shut because she was undergoing mercury treatment for syphilis which turned her teeth black.

    An American dentist has claimed that the tight-lipped expression was typical of people who have lost their front teeth, while a Danish doctor was convinced she suffered from congenital palsy which affected the left side of her face and this is why her hands are overly large.

    A French surgeon has also put forth his view that she was semi-paralysed, perhaps as the result of a stroke, and that this explained why one hand looks relaxed and the other tense.


  3. 2007-10-23 16:14
    Italy seeks ‘lost’ Leonardo fresco
    American tests should help find famed Battle of Anghiari

    (ANSA) – Florence, October 23 – Italy has opened the hunt for Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest lost fresco.

    Evidence claiming the fabled fresco of the Battle of Anghiari was behind a secret wall in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio was first presented two years ago.

    But experts weren’t sure about it, and officials balked at the idea of knocking through a later wall painting by the famous art historian Giorgio Vasari in the Salone dei Cincequento.

    Now it has been decided to build a scale model of the wall and recreate bits of the original fresco behind it – before coming back to hopefully find the real thing.

    The whole process will take about a year.

    The tests will take place at the University of San Diego, a major funder of the one-million-euro project along with three private foundations.

    In order to put the fresco fragments together, experts will pore over well-known smaller copies as well as documents detailing Leonardo’s painting technique. They’ll also compare the imagined work to existing Leonardo frescos like The Last Supper. A barrage of equipment will be trained on the scale model. If they work they’ll be used back in Florence.

    One tool comes from the world of nuclear physics, explained art sleuth Maurizio Seracini – the only real-life character in Dan Brown’s bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code and the man who uncovered the wall in summer 2005.

    The cutting-edge nuclear probe will carry out an analysis using “neutron activation,” said Seracini, who has devoted 30 years of his life to finding the fresco.

    “Point by point, we will get a map that will enable us to see what’s behind Vasari’s fresco,” he said.

    So-called ‘georadar’ technology created at the University of Florence will also be used.

    Once the experts have a good idea where to look, they’ll return to Florence to find what – if anything – is there.

    “After all the polemics we’re finally at the kick-off,” said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli.

    “In a year’s time we’ll have a solution to the riddle”.

    Florence Mayor Leonardo Domenico said: “There is something underneath the Vasari, that’s one thing we can be sure of”.

    “Now, with everyone working together, we’ll find out what it is and what shape it’s in”.

    Florence Provincial Chief Matteo Renzo said: “We’re at a turning point. The Battle of Anghiari’s mystery days are numbered”.

    And even if nothing turns up, Rutelli said, “we’ll be able to use the technology for other treasure hunts”. The discovery of the wall in June 2005 raised new hopes of finding this Holy Grail of the art world.

    But opinion has been divided.

    Seracini believes the wall hides “significant” traces of the fresco.

    The world’s top Leonardo scholar, Carlo Pedretti, is convinced the fresco is hiding in the palazzo – the past and present hub of Florentine government. “I really believe it’s behind that wall,” said Pedretti, director of the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies at the University of California in San Diego.

    He said Renaissance accounts showed “the fresco can only be there”.

    Pedretti was also optimistic about finding the fresco virtually intact.

    He rejected suggestions that Vasari might have damaged the fresco when he was told to cover it.

    Vasari was asked to paint over masterworks by Giotto and Masaccio in two other Florentine sites, he noted, but left the underlying works intact.

    “If he didn’t damage those ones, why should he have done so with the Leonardo?” This optimism contrasted with the initial views of then Florence art chief Antonio Paolucci who said “there’s little or nothing behind that wall”. But Paolucci, a former culture minister, was later instrumental in setting up the international panel that has now decided what to do about the find. ‘ANGHIARI’ KNOWN FROM COPIES, SKETCHES.

    Florence commissioned The Battle of Anghiari to celebrate its famous victory over Milan on June 29, 1440.

    It was described by sculptor Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) as a “ground-breaking masterpiece” that any artist simply had to see and study.

    In a 1549 letter to a Venetian friend, Florentine painter Anton Francesco Doni called it “a miraculous thing”.

    The work has long been known from sketches and copies.

    But the original was thought lost for ever – a victim of Leonardo’s typically unorthodox decision to jettison the traditional technique of applying paint to wet plaster.

    Leonardo (1452-1519) needed time for his painstaking approach and so used oils directly on the dry plaster in Palazzo Vecchio, the symbol of Florentine civic pride.

    Like the Last Supper in Milan it soon began to crumble, helped on its way by a thunderstorm that hit the unfinished building.

    Leonardo gave up and headed for Milan.

    Originally, the Leonardo work was to have stood opposite another grand martial fresco by Michelangelo, on the other side of the Salone.

    But Michelangelo didn’t even start it.

    Experts have been sure, however, that some version of Anghiari survived. Under pressure from Seracini, officials knocked through two square metres of the Vasari in 1979 – but found nothing.


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