Talk and book presentation.
Date: Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Venue: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Room V322, 3/F, Block V, Jockey Club Innovation Tower
Organized by: Italian Cultural Institute / Consulate General of Italy in Hong Kong and Macau.
In collaboration with: Minor in European Studies at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
After several years of research, Angelo Paratico reached an astonishing yet very logical conviction: Leonardo Da Vinci was the son of a Chinese slave, Caterina. Leonardo Da Vinci: A Chinese Scholar Lost in Renaissance Italy is the story of this historical investigation, which step by step reveals the mystery of Leonardo’s life as if it were a modern thriller.The discovery of new pieces of evidence in the state archives of Florence and the rereading of ancient documents from around the world, was a compelling process that brings to light what has been hidden from our eyes, in spite of the ten thousand pages of Leonardo’s notebooks in our possessions.New perspectives have emerged, which eventually explained the reasons for the oddities, omissions and reluctance that have accompanied Leonardo’s previous biographies. Caterina was very young when she was captured by Mongol raiders and then spirited out of China to Crimea, from where she was shipped to Venice’s slave market. She was then sold to the agent of a wealthy Florentine usurer, Ser Vanni, a client of Leonardo’s father. At that time, oriental slaves were a common sight all over Tuscany. Most were categorised as Tartars, a generic term used for all Eastern people under Mongol domination, including the Chinese.Even Ginevra Datini, the beloved daughter of the quintessential Renaissance merchant Francesco Datini (1335–1410), was born to a Tartar domestic slave, a young Mongolian lady named Lucia, who was working in the merchant’s house. This surprising fact would never have come to light without the fortuitous find, in the 19th Century, of a treasure trove of Datini’s letters hidden in a secret partition of his palace in Prato, close to Florence. The book analyses and discusses Leonardo’s oriental roots using all the evidence available: he was left handed and was in the habit of beginning his notebooks from the last page; he was a vegetarian; he had an almost Buddhist outlook on the world; his paintings show landscapes that are clearly derived from Chinese painters who had used them centuries earlier, etc. And the book proves – as Sigmund Freud in 1910 had already understood – that Leonardo’s painting of Mona Lisa in the Louvre, the most famous painting in the world, is actually the dreamlike image of Caterina, Leonardo’s Chinese mother. The only woman he ever loved.
Angelo Paratico is an Italian writer and historian. Born in 1955 he studied Chemistry, Classic History and Literature in Milan and then moved to Hong Kong in 1983 where he still lives with his family. He is the author of several books in Italian and English (http://angeloparatico.com) free-lances with several newspapers and magazines, more recently with the South China Morning Post. He has spoken several times at RTHK Morning Coffee (Hong Kong’s Radio) with Phil Whelan discussing a variety of topics. He is the vice President of the Dante Alighieri Cultural Society and one of the two founders of the cultural platform and blog Beyond Thirty-Nine
(beyondthirtynine.com) where he writes posts and leads several cultural projects, including an upcoming film on the life of Fr Gaertano Nicosia.