Angelo Paratico has spent the last 30 years living and working in Hong Kong, researching the links between his homeland and China over the past half a millennium. - Daily Mail
Does the theory sound like a bit of a long shot? Perhaps. But Paratico argues that, already a hundred years ago, the venerable Sigmund Freud claimed that the iconic painting was inspired by da Vinci's mother, in his 1910 essay, “A Childhood Reminiscence of Leonardo da Vinci." - Huffington Post
The woman depicted in the Mona Lisa might be both a Chinese slave, and Leonardo da Vinci's mother, according to a new theory from Angelo Paratico, a Hong Kong-based historian and novelist. - The Telegraph
Gli Assassini del Karma
Un Manuale Per Uomini Superiori
Angelo Paratico is an Italian writer and historian. Born in 1955 he studied Chemistry, Classic History and Literature in Milan and then moved to Hong Kong in 1983 where he still lives with his family.
He freelances with several newspapers and magazines, more recently with the South China Morning Post. He has spoken several times at RTHK Morning Coffee (Hong Kong’s Radio) with Phil Whelan discussing a variety of topics.
He is one of the founders of the cultural platform and blog
Beyond Thirty-Nine (http://beyondthirtynine.com) where he writes posts and leads several cultural projects.
Storia di Castano Primo
Nero: An Exemplary Life
The life of Leonardo Da Vinci remains an enigma to this day, in spite of documents surfacing from ancient archives and the thousands of pages of his personal notebooks. He was born on 15 April 1452 in Vinci, Tuscany, out of wedlock and unwanted, the result of a casual sexual encounter between Ser Piero di Antonio Da Vinci – a successful notary of the Florentine Republic – and, almost certainly, a domestic Chinese slave girl called Caterina. Subsequently Ser Piero acted as a matchmaker and arranged for Caterina to wed one of his handymen: Antonio di Pietro del Vaccha d’Andrea Buti, nicknamed Accattabriga meaning quarreler and bully.
Caterina was just a little girl when she was captured by Mongol raiders and then spirited out of China, first to Tana in Crimea, where she was sold in a slave market, and then to Venice. Having reached the Italian maritime republic, she was bought by the agent of a wealthy Florentine usurer, Ser Vanni, and taken to his house to help his wife, Monna Agnola, in her domestic chores.
Caterina’s Chinese facial traits were not recorded in Vinci because – contrary to current wisdom – at that time oriental slaves were a common sight all over Tuscany. For instance, Ginevra Datini, the daughter of the quintessential Renaissance merchant Francesco Datini (1335–1410), was born to him by a Tartar slave named Lucia, who was working in the house of the rich merchant. This surprising fact would never have come to light without the fortuitous find, in the 19th century, of a treasure trove of Datini’s letters and ledgers hidden in a secret partition in his palace in Prato, a city close to Florence. George H. Edgell notes: ‘As they came by the thousand and were rapidly absorbed by the indigenous population, a certain Mongolian strain could not have been rare in Tuscan homes and streets.’
Most of these domestic slaves were referred to as Tartars, a generic term used to indicate all Far Eastern people subject to Mongol domination, including the Chinese, even if mentions of girls from Kataya – the way China was then known – seldom appear.
Sigmund Freud was the first to suggest, in a famous essay published in 1911, that the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum in Paris is the imaginary image of Caterina, Leonardo’s mother. The author in this book argues that he was right and that the Chinese-looking landscape behind her seems to confirm this impression. Furthermore, that this lady does not have eyebrows seems another clue pointing to China, because Tartar (and Chinese) slave girls were often described in sales contracts as having sunken eyes with no eyebrows.
The author offers a novel idea, which is for the first time presented and discussed: we may indeed possess a real portrait of Caterina, Leonardo’s mother, as she looked around 1478.
There is an oil portrait, which like the Mona Lisa is kept under bulletproof glass. It is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington and Leonardo Da Vinci’s authorship is not disputed by anybody after it was ascribed to him in the 19th century by Gustav Waagen.
The picture is known as the Lichtenstein Lady or the Ginevra de’ Benci but for a number of reasons this sombre, gloomy-looking and suffering lady staring down at us cannot be the 18-year-old Ginevra, then a renowned beauty in Florence.
In fact, the facial traits of this lady look very similar to those of the only definite self-portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci – that in the Adoration of the Magi. This shows him when he was 29 years old and it is kept in the Uffizi Museum in Florence (see the book’s cover).
This lady can only be Caterina, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Chinese mother.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was an Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote”. Marco Rosci states that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.
On the press
The news that Leonardo Da Vinci’s mother was a Chinese slave becomed viral in few hours all around the world, from China to Americas, Europe and Australia.