The elusive identity of the Mona Lisa, one of art history's most enduring mysteries, might have just been solved.
According to art historian Angelo Paratico, the woman portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece might be, simultaneously, a Chinese slave and the painter's mother. Indeed, he is sure that Leonardo's mother was from the Orient. The story goes like that: one wealthy client of Leonardo's father had a slave called Caterina.
After 1452, Leonardo's date of birth, she disappeared from the documents. She was no longer working there. Apparently, Caterina (da Vinci's mother, too, is widely thought to have been named Caterina) was taken to the town of Vinci, outside Florence, to give birth. Paratico's angle is that she had to be removed from the household due to her improper relationship with her master. Do not forget 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."
Angelo Paratico substantiates his thesis further by insisting that some aspects of da Vinci's life suggest an oriental connection. For example, he was left-handed as well as a vegetarian, both of which were uncommon at the time. Also, the painting's background depicts a Chinese landscape and Mona Lisa's face looks Chinese. But Paratico does not rest there as he believes Macau's Ruins of St Paul might have been inspired by a Da Vinci sketch.
A disciple of Da Vinci, painter Francesco Melzi inherited most of his sketches, and Paratico believes there was a good chance that Melzi had shown the draft to Carlo Spinola, who is believed to have directed the church project.
Meanwhile, users of the Chinese social media platform launched a Chinese-Mona Lisa meme parade, replacing her features with hilarious alternatives. Honestly, we understand now why her smile looks so mysterious and concealed: typically Chinese.