Sunday, November 21, 2010

In the Footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci - Part Four (Amboise, France)

See parts one, two and three covering Leonardo's boyhood years in Vinci, Leonardo's apprenticeship in Florence and Leonardo's time in Milan.

Leonardo’s time in Milan finished after the French occupied the city, starting sixteen years of travels around Italy in various roles, including visits to Venice, Florence and Rome. In this time, Leonardo continues to produce his extraordinary notes and work. During the time he painted the famous Mona Lisa before finally being offered a painting and advisory role to the French king and moving to the Loire valley and the town of Amboise. He took his valued belongings with him (including the Mona Lisa) a reason the Louvre holds five of Italian Leonardo’s rare paintings.

Leonardo was granted a mansion in Clos Luce connected by underground passage to Amboise Castle. This mansion still survives and pays homage to Leonardo with the house furnished in the style of Leonardo.

The property is surrounded by extensive leafy parklands with pleasant walking tracks lined with a number of models of Leonardo's works. Unlike in other museums, these models are made to be touched and enjoyed. The paddleboat can be ridden on the stream, the multiple firing gun can be fired, water raised from the river and the portable bridge crossed.

In a separate room, a number of his other models are on display highlight Leonardo’s fascination with flight and transport. His extraordinary vision for a geared car shows a model that will run on a spring for over 100 metres and a wooden tank that could be used in warfare.

Leonardo only lasted three years in Clos Luce before dying. Cherished by the French king, Fran├žois 1,”No man ever lived who had learned as much about sculpture, painting, and architecture, but still more that he was a very great philosopher.”, his remains were buried in a chapel in Amboise Castle in a simple tomb.

For his time, Leonardo was exceptionally well travelled. Leaving behind precious little of his times outside of his drawings, famous paintings and notebooks, he is unmatched in history for his breadth of works and was unmatched for centuries in the inventiveness of his thoughts and ideas. As an engineer, he has left behind helicopters, gliders, armoured tanks and a parachute. His anatomical studies were not bettered for hundreds of years. Leonardo is the true “Renaissance Man” and has left enough snippets of his life to make travelling in his footsteps an intriguing journey.

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Spencer said...

Looks like a very pretty place to stay.

Barbara Weibel said...

This was an absolutely fascinating series - thank you, Mark!

Mark H said...

@spencer: The Loire valley is a superb place to visit with aristocratic castles and wonderful French scenery.

@barbara: Thnak you - a remarkable man.

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