Beijing: A Hong Kong-based historian and novelist has claimed that the woman depicted in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting might be both a Chinese slave, and his mother.
Angelo Paratico has spent the last two years piecing documents together to connect the dots.
Paratico, in a non-fiction book titled ‘Leonardo Da Vinci: A Chinese scholar lost in Renaissance Italy’, which he hopes to publish next year, traces ties between Da Vinci and the Far East, the South China Morning Post reported.
Paratico says he is "sure up to a point that Leonardo's mother was from the Orient, but to make her an oriental Chinese, we need to use a deductive method".
It is widely accepted that the artist's father was a notary but very little is known about his mother Caterina, with some believing she was a local peasant.
But Paratico claimed, "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."
Paratico believes Caterina was taken to Vinci, about 32 km from Florence, where she gave birth and the move was made because a relationship with a slave was seen as improper.
"During the Renaissance, countries like Italy and Spain were full of oriental slaves," he said.
Paratico also points to other indications of Chinese ancestry, "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" among Europeans.
"Mona Lisa is probably a portrait of his mother, as Sigmund Freud (an Austrian neurologist) said in 1910. On the back of Mona Lisa, there is a Chinese landscape and even her face looks Chinese," Paratico added.
Only DNA analysis, using samples from relatives buried in Florence, can solve the mystery, he said.
Paratico also believes Macau's Ruins of St. Paul might have been inspired by a Da Vinci sketch.
Researchers, however, are sceptical about Paratico's ideas.
"I respect his theory and it's an interesting proposition, but I don't think that the facade was inspired by a Leonardo Da Vinci sketch," said Cesar Guillen Nunez, art historian at the Macau Ricci Institute.