Although renowned Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci has been dead for 502 years, his bloodline is still around. New research has uncovered 14 living male descendants of da Vinci, with the prospect of there being more relatives. The revelation comes after years of research into historical documents, with the ultimate goal of sequencing the deceased artist’s genome to better understand his genius.
The research emerged from a new journal study titled “The New Genealogical Tree of the Da Vinci Family for Leonardo’s DNA. Ancestors and descendants in direct male line down to the present XXI generation.” The research began in 2016 and was finally published this week in Human Evolution. In charge of the research were scholar and art historian Alessandro Vezzosi, who also founded Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci, and historian Agnese Sabato, president of Associazione Leonardo Da Vinci Heritage.
Vessosi began the work of tracing da Vinci’s genealogy in 1973 and started working with Sabato in 1993. Since their start, the two have sifted through 690 years of both public and private documents to piece together the artist’s family history.
ARTnews reported Sabato said via email: “[I felt] happy, both for the fruit of so much work and for having made known to these descendants the origin of their family. It was like discovering, piece by piece, the design of a lost ancient mosaic. It was the joy of giving these people back a story that had always been theirs but which they did not know.”
Thus far, research efforts have procured data on 224 individuals spanning 21 generations, in which the research began with Michele Leonardo of the 14th century. “The Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project” is a global effort to sequence da Vinci’s DNA and the family tree project is just the first phase.
In related news, an art historian created an NFT of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.”
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