We know that Leonardo arrived in Amboise in the autumn of 1516 but do not know how he got here. There are as many theories as to how he travelled from Italy as there are books written about him. There are no records of his journey but if, as is generally thought, he travelled over the Alps, it maybe that François I, with his experience of the Alps, advised him the best time to go. Leonardo had travelled all over Italy but this journey, believed to have lasted almost three months, was the longest he had undertaken. Some authors say that Leonardo went to Amboise via Paris with François. Others that he went with him via Lyon. Still others that Leonardo was met in Lyon by the King's men who escorted him to Amboise. Whatever the truth, we know that in the summer of 1516 Leonardo left Italy with his pupil Melzi and his servant Battista. Some authors say his protegé Salai was with him, others say not. Melzi, Salai and Battista would eventually return to Italy, Leonardo never did. He asked to be buried in Amboise. With Leonardo were his paintings The Virgin and Child with St. Anne commissioned by Louis XII who died before it was finished, St. John the Baptist which some say was his last painting and the Mona Lisa. How relieved the ageing Leonardo must have been to finally arrive at his last home, Le Manoir du Cloux, as it was then known, five hundred metres from François in The Royal Château of Amboise. (Cloux was renamed Château Clos Lucé). Inside Cloux, waiting for her new Master, was Mathurine, the kindly cook housekeeper who Leonardo would remember in his Will. The royal household paid Mathurine’s wages and supplied her with whatever she needed to run Clos Lucė. Besides Leonardo’s generous allowance, it also paid the wages of Melzi, Salai and Batista. Leonardo’s contract as Painter to the Royal Court had only one clause: He talks to the King on a daily basis if the King is about and so wishes. Legend has it that François used a tunnel from Château Amboise to Clos Lucé to visit Leonardo. There is certainly a network of tunnels under it. The room Leonardo chose for his bedroom had a wonderful view of the Château from the window. It still does. Visitors can see the same view today.
Read more about Leonardo da Vinci and his connection with the Loire Valley in Leonardo da Vinci: The Amboise Connection (available from Amazon).
The book was written to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death in 1519 at Clos Lucé, Amboise, where he spent the last three years of his life.
Post by Pamela
Visit St Hubert’s Chapel, Royal Chateau of Amboise and Château Clos Lucé on a Photograph France photography tour or workshop Click here for more information.