Finding Leonardo

It just so happened that our visit to the Loire Valley in France coincided with the 500 anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci who spent the last three years of his life at the Château du Clos Lucé in the historic town of Amboise.   It seemed the perfect time to be visiting!

Clos Lucé, Amboise, France   Image: GRACIE

The palace contains a museum dedicated to the life and work of this great man and an hour or two exploring the exhibits and wandering the gardens was truly fascinating. Leonardo da Vinci died on May 2, 1519 in the first floor bedroom that is furnished in that period.  

The bedroom of Leonardo da Vinci featuring a Renaissance canopied bed. Image: GRACIE

The workshop is made up of three spaces devoted to the painter’s workshop, the cabinet of curiosities and the study.

The entire room is thoroughly intriguing. Image: GRACIE

On display are the painter’s easel and painting accessories including the pigment preparation workbench and preparation of colours from the pigments.   As well, you can see the final sketches of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (1516-1519)

His anatomical drawings are clearly displayed revealing the intricate sketching of detail and discovery.

The cabinet of curiosities contains instruments and fossils, herbariums, maps and manuscripts.  It was here where he sought to unveil the secrets of nature and physics.

Leonardo’s study and curiosities cabinet Image: GRACIE

Cabinet of curiosities detail Image: GRACIE

Leonardo’s achievements as an inventor, engineer and visionary, are presented in the model rooms where forty fabulous model machines, five centuries ahead of their time are on display. Military engineering, mechanics, optics, hydraulics and aeronautics make up this amazing exhibition.

Model of military armoured tank with guns all around Image: GRACIE

The outdoor gardens provide a glorious backdrop to display further inventions one of which is this model – an arial screw-shaped device with rotating blades to lift the it off the ground – a forerunner for today’s helicopter.

The propellor anticipating the helicopter Image: GRACIE

An area of the garden contains rose beds aptly named ‘Mona Lisa’, the iconic painting that he rolled neatly and brought with him from Italy.

Mona Lisa rose garden: Image GRACIE

A visit here is time well spent, the only problem being finding enough time to absorb all it offers.