Oxford University art historian Martin Kemp says Leonardo da Vinci's mother was a poor peasant.
An Oxford University researcher has claimed to have solved the mystery behind the identity of Leonardo da Vinci's mother, five centuries after the Italian artist's death. The identity of Leonardo da Vinci's mother has remained elusive, although the genius artist who painted the Mona Lisa is one of the greatest cultural figures in history.
Researchers have claimed that his mother, Caterina, gave birth to an illegitimate son from a relationship with a lawyer when she was 15 years old. The speculation in recent years is that she was a slave.
Now, an art historian at Britain's Oxford University has claimed that the full name of Leonardo da Vinci's mother was Caterina di Meo Lippi. Professor Martin Kemp said Caterina was a poor peasant, probably an orphan, living with her grandmother in a decrepit farmhouse about a mile from Vinci in the Italian Tuscan hills, The Times reported.
The name emerged from previously overlooked archives in Florence and Vinci, including property tax records, Mr Kemp said. Caterina's father disappeared when she was young, leaving her to be brought up by her grandmother.
In 1451, when Caterina was 15, she became pregnant by Ser Piero da Vinci, 25, a lawyer working in Florence, Mr Kemp said.
"Caterina was a peasant fallen on bad times, and you cannot be much lower in the social pile than that. To be a 16-year-old with an illegitimate son and no house was about as bad as it gets," Mr Kemp said.
Ser Piero da Vinci was anyway due to get married, and Caterina was married off to Antonio di Piero Buti, a farmer.
Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 14, 1452, and brought up in the house of Ser Piero da Vinci's father. Mr Kemp said he believes Leonardo da Vinci was not born in Casa Natale in Anchiano, but in the house of his paternal grandfather in Vinci.