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Mystery of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother solved after 500 years

PTI | London |

Researchers have finally solved the mystery behind the identity of Leonardo da Vinci's mother, nearly five centuries after the Italian artist's death.

The identity of the mother of da Vinci has remained elusive, even though the artistic genius, who painted the Mona Lisa, is one of the greatest cultural figures in history.

It is known that his mother Caterina gave birth to an illegitimate son after she was seduced by a lawyer at the age of 15. There has even been speculation in recent years that she was a slave.

Now, an art historian at the Oxford University in the UK has revealed that the full name of da Vinci's mother was Caterina di Meo Lippi.

Professor Martin Kemp found that 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, 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, 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," he said.

Ser Piero was due to get married, and Caterina was duly married off to Antonio di Piero Buti, a local farmer.

Da Vinci was born on April 14, 1452, and brought up in the house of Ser Piero's father.

Kemp also suggests that da Vinci was not born in the so- called Casa Natale in Anchiano, but in the house of his paternal grandfather in Vinci.