Mona Lisa painter Leonardo da Vinci was only half-Italian and his mother was a slave who was trafficked to Italy from the Caucasus region, new research has claimed.

Carlo Vecce, who studies Da Vinci’s life and work, unveiled the findings in Florence at the launch of his new book.

Experts have mostly agreed that Da Vinci’s mother was called Caterina and the artist was born in 1452.

His father was said to be a young Florentine notary called Ser Piero da Vinci.

Beyond those details, there was little evidence to support a number of theories about Da Vinci’s background.

But now Mr Vecce has claimed to have found a previously unknown document written by Ser Piero da Vinci in the State Archives in Florence.

The document is dated November 1452 – when the future painter and Italian cultural icon would have been six months old – and is an act of liberation of a slave called Caterina by Monna Ginevra.

Monna was the wife of a “Florentine adventurer”, who was the owner of slaves from the Black Sea region.

Mr Vecce said the document was written by the same man “who loved Caterina” when she was a slave and gave her a child and helped to set her free.

He told NBC News: “When I saw that document I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“I never gave much credit to the theory that she was a slave from abroad.

“So, I spent months trying to prove that the Caterina in that notary act was not Leonardo’s mother, but in the end all the documents I found went into that direction, and I surrendered to the evidence.”

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He added: “At the time many slaves were named Caterina, but this was the only liberation act of a slave named Caterina Ser Piero wrote in all his long career.

“Moreover, the document is full of small mistakes and oversights, a sign that perhaps he was nervous when he drafted it, because getting someone else’s slave pregnant was a crime.”

The Caucasus region between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea includes parts of southern Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

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