Leonardo in Amboise - Table of Contents

Leonardo daVinci at Château du Clos Lucé
2 Rue du Clos Lucé, 37400 Amboise, France

Where Leonardo daVinci lived for the three years before his death

Château du Clos Lucé - Official Website
UNESCO World Heritage site

Photographs taken in November 2015.

The Château du Clos Lucé was purchased by Charles VIII on 2nd July 1490, and became the summer residence of the Kings of France, who lived in the Loire Valley at the Château d’Amboise. Charles VIII transformed the Medieval fortress into a charming château and had a chapel built for the Queen, Anne of Brittany, who mourned the loss of her young children there.

Later, the young Duke of Angoulême, the future Francis I, organized tournaments in the gardens at Le Clos Lucé. His sister, Marguerite of Navarre, wrote the stories of the "Heptaméron" there. Brother and sister received visits from painters, architects and poets, and brought the place alive with the spirit of the Renaissance.

Outer defensive walls in the town of Amboise.
The royal Château at Amboise is a château located in Amboise, in the Loire Valley in France. Confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favored royal residence and was extensively rebuilt. The château fell into decline from the second half of the 16th century and the majority of the interior buildings were later demolished, but some survived and have been restored, along with the outer defensive circuit of towers and walls. It has been recognized as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840.

The Chateau (Castle).

King Francis I was raised at Amboise, which belonged to his mother, Louise of Savoy, and during the first few years of his reign the château reached the pinnacle of its glory. As a guest of the King, Leonardo da Vinci came to Château Amboise in December 1515 and lived and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the château by an underground passage.

The son of Francis I, Henry II,  and his wife, Catherine de' Medici, raised their children in Château Amboise along with Mary Stuart, the child Queen of Scotland who had been promised in marriage to the future French Francis II.

Where Leonardo daVinci lived for the three years before his death.
Chateau du Clos Lucé is located at 500 meters from the royal Château d'Amboise, Francois I's summer castle,  to which it is connected by an underground passageway ... The watchtower is part of fortified dwelling

Leonardo's chamber ... Period appropriate furniture

Leonardo's chamber ... Period appropriate furniture

The chamber of Marguerite de Navarre, the older sister of Francois I

The chamber of Marguerite de Navarre... The coat of arms of "France Moderne"  is depicted on the fireplace frieze and on the fireback, both of which is detailed below:

The coat of arms of "France Moderne, after 1376": shield with crown, three fleurs-de-lis, shells, and ribbons ... The three petals may represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed.

The chamber of Marguerite de Navarre...  Fireback depicts two angels flanking the French coat-of-arms

Hallway stained glass window ... Six details below:





Chapel entrance

Chapel door features trefoils and trefoil arches in tracery

Chapel stained glass window

Chapel stained glass window ... Medallion details below:

Chapel MedallionCrucifixion

Chapel Medallion

Chapel MedallionCrucifixion

Chapel Medallion

Chapel Medallion

The Great Room ... Copies of two paintings that daVinci brought with him to Amboise:  Mona Lisa and St. John the Baptist

Great Room period appropriate chair with leather back and seat ... Detail below:

daVinci's servant Mathurine’s kitchen ... Period appropriate furnishings

daVinci's servant Mathurine’s kitchen

Leonardo's servant Mathurine’s kitchen ... Stairs lead to basement and and a museum : Leonardo's inventions

“Nel palazzo del Clu”: 500 years of History
By Francois Saint Bris
Pub. by Association of the Friends of Leonardo daVinci (online Dec. 2015)

In the wake of his first meeting with the young, twenty-year-old monarch in December 1515 in Bologna, shortly after the signing of the Concordat drawn up with the Pope, Leonardo da Vinci was invited to reside in France by Francis I, at that time basking in the glory of his victory at Marignan.

... Leonardo was still in Rome that August. It was in the autumn of 1516, before the winter snows, that Leonardo da Vinci accepted the royal invitation. At the age of sixty-four, he embarked on his final journey, and settled in France.

He crossed the Alps on mule back, accompanied by a handful of his disciples... With him, in his leather saddlebags, Leonardo brought his Mona Lisa, St. John the Baptist, and St. Anne, as well as his note[book] and sketchbooks, his manuscripts, and a lifetime’s worth of writings and jottings.

Francis I and Louise of Savoy welcomed Leonardo “with open arms”. Francis I appointed him “First painter, engineer, and architect of the King”. He put the Chateau du Cloux at his disposal, and paid him the princely retainer of one thousand crowns a year, for life. Leonardo da Vinci lived happily in this residence for the last three years of his life, painting and working enthusiastically on the thousand and one things that interested him.

The young monarch paid him almost daily visits, for the sheer pleasure of conversing with him.Tradition had it that he take the underground passage that then linked the Chateau du Cloux with the Royal Castle of Amboise – its vaulted entrance being still very much in evidence to this day.

Francis I held the old man in deepest, almost filial, esteem, and called him “mon pere”. According to the words of the great goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, who had also made the transalpine journey at the king’s behest, “king Francis, who was so keenly enamoured of his great qualities, took such pleasure in listening to him hold forth, that he was only rarely not in his company

At the royal court of Amboise, throughout these flourishing Renaissance years, Leonardo, in his exile in France, once again met with many Italian artists. Amboise was steeped in the Italian art of living, and became the cradle of the French Renaissance.

Leonardo passed away on 2 May 1519 at the age of sixty-seven, after receiving the last rites of the Church.

Leonardo daVinci was buried at the collegiate church of Saint Florentin in Amboise. In the wake of the havoc wrought by the wars of religion, and then the demolition, in 1808, of the church and of Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb, his burial place was duly moved to the Saint Hubert Chapel at the Royal Castle of Amboise.

Charles IV, duke of Alençon Marguerite of Navarre, elder sister of Francis...  It was not a happy union, and soon after Marguerite of Navarre made the Clos Lucé her permanent residence.

In 1954, Hubert and Agnes Saint Bris enthusiastically embarked upon a new venture and took the decision to open Leonardo da Vinci’s house in its entirety to the public...   They committed themselves to a stone-by-stone restoration of the residence

Apart from the house in Vinci, in Tuscany, where Leonardo was born, there are no other known Leonardo daVinci homes.

Photos and their arrangement © 2015 Chuck LaChiusa
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