Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
Rakewell likes nothing better than a good bit of amateur genealogy. So it is then, that he is delighted to hear that a team of historians in Italy claim to have discovered more than 30 living descendants of Leonardo da Vinci, most of whom still reside in and around Florence and the master’s hometown of Vinci. They are said to include a policemen and a pastry chef.
Although the whereabouts of Leonardo’s remains is unknown (and although he had no direct descendants), Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato have been able to reconstruct a partial family tree, starting from documents dating back to the artist’s lifetime. Which is fascinating up to a point.
Quite what we are supposed to take from the knowledge that film director Franco Zeffirelli, for example, may be a distant relative of the Renaissance master is moot. But it would make for a cracking reality TV show: Rakewell imagines a breathtaking hybrid of Dan Brown and the BBC’s Who do You Think You Are?, possibly involving an axe-wielding Paul Bettany and a lot of shots of Vezzosi and Sabato pacing through Florence at inexplicable speed. Call it The Da Vinci Genetic Code, if you like.