Is that smirk on Mona Lisa’s face because she’s watching her half Italian-half Chinese son Leonardo trying to eat spaghetti with chopsticks? Sounds far-fetched, but it could be true based on a forthcoming book which claims Leonardo da Vinci’s mother was a Chinese slave and his model for the Mona Lisa.
There are a lot of dots to connect in this theory proposed by Hong Kong-based art historian Angelo Paratico in his book, “Leonardo da Vinci: A Chinese Scholar Lost in Renaissance Italy.” It is a known fact that Leonardo’s father, Piero da Vinci, was a notary in Vinci. Less is known about his mother other than that her name was Caterina and she was not married to Piero.
Paratico claims that a wealthy client of Piero had a slave named Caterina who was probably from an Asian country since Italy and Spain were full of Asian slaves during the Renaissance. After Leonardo was born in 1452, Caterina’s name disappeared from the client’s records. Paratico suggests she was sent to Vinci to hide what looked like an improper relationship with her owner.
There are hints in da Vinci’s life that point to a possible Asian heritage, according to Paratico.
For instance, the fact he was writing with his left hand from left to right... and he was also a vegetarian which was not common. Mona Lisa is probably a portrait of his mother, as Sigmund Freud said in 1910. On the back of Mona Lisa, there is a Chinese landscape and even her face looks Chinese.
Does Mona Lisa looks Chinese? Well, she has no visible eyebrows or eyelashes, but it was common in that era for refined women to pluck them. There are also theories that the painting originally had them but they were removed over time, possibly by cleaning. Does the landscape behind her look Chinese? Seems kind of generic and there’s no pagodas.
While the general consensus is that Lisa del Giocondo was the model for the Mona Lisa, there is not universal agreement. Paratico wants to have the remains of da Vinci’s relatives in Florence exhumed so that their DNA can be tested.
Does Angelo Paratico connect enough dots to convince you that Mona Lisa is the Chinese slave mother of Leonardo da Vinci?