Da Vinci History Challenged by Leading Oxford Professor

Key evidence casts new light on the icon, his family, and his masterpiece.

In his new book, Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting, Professor Martin Kemp – an emeritus professor of art history at Oxford University, and a leading authority on Leonardo da Vinci – presents key historical evidence unearthed from 15th century Vinci and Florence archives that cast new light on the famous painter, his mysterious mother and his masterpiece, according to The Guardian

For instance, very little was previously known about da Vinci’s mother, who Kemp has now identified as Caterina di Meo Lippi, an orphaned girl who gave birth to Leonardo at 15 following a brief relationship with an up-and-coming Florentine lawyer named Ser Piero da Vinci.

Kemp also challenges Leonardo’s birthplace, writing he was more likely born in his paternal grandfather’s house in Vinci, and not the heavily toured Casa Natale in Anchiano.

And in yet another twist, the professor and his co-author, Dr. Giuseppe Pallanti – an economist and art researcher – state that Francesco del Giocondo, husband of the Mona Lisa’s iconic sitter, Lisa del Giocondo, was likely not a high-society silk merchant, but rather a trader of sugar, leather, property and slaves.

The book, due out next month, is generating plenty of buzz among art lovers and historians alike, given that Kemp’s and Pallanti’s conclusions were pulled directly from troves of financial documents that went overlooked for 600 years.

For more to the story, visit The Guardian. 

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