The identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother has always been a mystery. Art historians have struggled to find information about the woman whose illegitimate son became the artistic genius who painted Mona Lisa. With only a possible first name – Caterina – there has been speculation that she was a peasant or even a slave from north Africa. Beyond that, there is little to go on.
Now, almost six centuries later, one of the world’s leading authorities on Leonardo has given a far fuller account of her story, piecing together her son’s world using previously overlooked documents.