What did Leonardo’s mother really look like?

• From La Voce di New York:

The cover of the book, Caterina’s Smile

An Italian scholar and novelist has provided a fresh theory for an old debate over the identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother, drawing on a recently unearthed document as evidence that she arrived on the Italian peninsula as a slave from the Caucasus region of Central Asia.

Carlo Vecce, an Italian literature professor at the University of Naples L’Orientale, has revealed his theory in a new novel, “Il Sorriso di Caterina,” or “Caterina’s Smile.” He based his claim on a document discovered in the State Archives in Florence that granted freedom to a girl named Caterina. 

I don’t know who is the model for the book cover, but it’s a beautiful image, and Carlo Vecce has provided a fresh theory as to who was Leonardo’s mother.

But what did Caterina really look like? On this matter I have a theory of my own:

Leonardo may have portrayed his mother as the model for the Virgin Mary in his painting of The Annunciation. Are any clues to Caterina’s identity embedded in the painting itself? Or could the young woman’s identity be someone else who was close to Leonardo? 

In a future post I intend to reveal the iconography that identifies the four men who were were summoned with Leonardo before the Florentine authorities in 1476 to answer an anonymous accusation of sodomy made against them.