Posted on March 15, 2023 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

A novel released today imagines the life of Leonardo da Vinci's mother.

And while Il Sorriso di Caterina (Caterina's Smile) isn't yet in English, the author has shared the broad details of it to the world.

Carlo Vecce, a da Vinci expert, now believes that the Renaissance master's mother was an enslaved woman from the Caucasus.

Scholars all agree that the woman's name was Caterina and that she was not married to da Vinci's father, but the rest of her life is up to debate.

Voice has cited some previously unknown documents in the State Archives in Florence as the basis of his theory.

In them, Leonardo da Vinci's father — a notary — records the freeing of an enslaved woman named Caterina; the woman's master owned slaves from the Black Sea region.

NBC News has more details about the research behind Il Sorriso di Caterina, straight from the author's mouth.

And if you find this sort of historical sleuthing interesting, The Passive Voice recently reshared how Brenda James came to the conclusion that William Shakespeare's true identity was actually Sir Henry Neville.

(Note that sharing does not equal endorsing, in this case ...)

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Categories: Today in Books

Tagged As: Historical fiction

I am reading this book in Italian which is a language that I am studying. The prose is beautiful and learning something else about Leonardo is always welcome. It is a novel, well researched obviously, but I do hope that it is a true story. Grazie, Carlo Vecce for writing it! Ana María Balfour
Ana María Balfour | 5/6/23 at 1:26 PM
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