A new DNA study shows that Leonardo Da Vinci’s family that stretches back nearly seven centuries has turned up 14 living descendants of the Renaissance artist. Researchers say that study will yield a greater understanding of the man who gave us the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, as well as famous sketches of the male human’s proportions, a parachute and helicopter 400 years before it was invented.
The genealogical research, led by art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato and published this week in the journal Human Evolution, stretches back 21 generations and across five family branches.Their research traced Da Vinci’s male lineage to his great-great-great-grandfather, Michele, who was born in 1331 and the first to bear the family name. The living descendants they discovered range in age from 1 to 85.
Researchers are hoping that the DNA they’ve uncovered will help shed some light on his extraordinary vision, left-handedness and premature aging, among other questions.The discovery is remarkable, given that Da Vinci’s remains have been missing since the 18th century and he had no known children.
Da Vinci’s was born out of wedlock in 1452 near the Tuscan hill town of Vinci. His father, Piero, was a Florentine attorney and notary. He was prolific, as Da Vinci’s had at least 22 half-brothers.After died in 1519, he was buried in the chapel of Saint-Florentin at the Château d’Amboise in Frances’s Loire valley, but the chapel was destroyed during the French Revolution more than 200 years later. Bones believed to be Da Vinci’s were retrieved and interred in the chateau’s smaller chapel, Saint-Hubert.