Published On: Mon, May 6th, 2019

Experts Comb Through DNA of Possible Lock of Da Vinci Hair

A whitish-blond lock of hair that might be from Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci went on display Thursday at a museum in his Tuscan birthplace as historians comb through 500-year-old DNA.

“This lock remained secret for a long time before we discovered it three years ago in the United States,” art historian Alessandro Vezzosi told AFP about the “relic” at the Leonardo library in Vinci, Italy.

According to Vezzosi, after studying Da Vinci’s geneology for 40 years, “we presented 35 living descendants of the master” in 2016, “and a short time later I was contacted by the collector who owns it and who agreed to show it.”

Leonardo da Vinci was born April 15, 1452, in Vinci, northwest of Florence, the illegitimate son of a wealthy landowner and a teenaged peasant. He died May 2, 1519, in Amboise, central France, where he had lived as the guest of King Francis I.

Leonardo had no children but he had a dozen half-siblings on his father’s side and several more on his mother’s side, AFP reported.

Vezzosi said he chose the symbolic 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death to present the lock of hair as part of the “Leonardo Lives” exhibition.

CNN first reported the DNA testing effort by Vezzosi.

“We are not 100 percent sure it is his hair, we are saying it is possible through genealogical research to compare the genetic material’s DNA with that of Leonardo’s living descendants who have been found in Tuscany,” Vezzosi said, AFP reported.

Other comparisons are to be made with material recovered from tombs in France and Spain, the Renaissance specialist added.

Eike Schmidt of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence doubts the hair is authentic, telling Italian media “it is extremely unlikely that a lock of Leonardo’s hair could wind up in an American collection,” AFP reported.

Vezzosi plans to present the results of his research within a few months.

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Experts Comb Through DNA of Possible Lock of Da Vinci Hair