A study of the history of the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci’s family stated that they found 14 living relatives, the youngest of them.
These findings are part of a decades-long project led by art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato to rebuild Da Vinci’s genealogy—Da Vinci was never married and had no children, but at least 22 half-brothers understood his genius better.
The latest research published in the journal “Human Evolution” records a continuous male pedigree spanning 690 years, starting with Leonardo’s grandfather Michel (born in 1331) and going through 21 generations (including five family branches) , To today’s 14 living offspring.
The painter, scientist, engineer and architect was born in 1452 in the illegitimate son of a notary in Vinci, Tuscany, and died in Amboise, France in 1519.
Vezzosi told the news agency Ansa that researchers have been tracking the Y chromosome passed from father to son, and it has remained almost unchanged for 25 generations.
In 2016, they also identified 35 surviving relatives of Leonardo, many of whom are matrilineal, but most of them are indirect offspring. The most famous indirect descendant is said to be the late film director Franco Zeffirelli.
“They are not the ones who can provide us with useful information about Leonardo’s DNA, especially the Y chromosome,” Vezzosi added.
Regarding the surviving relatives, Vezzosi said: “They are between 1 and 85 years old. They do not live in Vinci, but live in neighboring cities as far as Versilia (Tuscany coast). Ordinary jobs, such as clerk, surveyor, and a craftsman.”
Their DNA will be analyzed in the coming months by comparing their Y chromosomes with the Y chromosomes of their ancestors in ancient and modern cemeteries.
During the project, the researchers collected data from historical documents in public and private archives and direct accounts provided by surviving offspring.
Leonardo’s original cemetery was in the Saint-Florentine church in the Amboise castle in the Loire Valley, France, but it was destroyed during the French Revolution. The bones were removed from there and buried in the small church of Saint Hubert in the castle, but they can only be assumed to be the remains of Leonardo.