Château de Chenonceau
Leonardo da Vinci
Bronze statue of Leonardo da Vinci as Perseus on the Ile d’or in the Loire opposite, more or less, the Château d’Amboise, Amboise, France
Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years in Amboise and is said to be buried in the chapel of the château (there is some doubt that his remains are actually there). This statue by the Italian sculptor Amleto Cataldi (1882-1930) was presented to the French government by the Republic of San Marino in 1935. It represents Leonardo as a “Greek god,” although why the subject of Perseus and Medusa was chosen is not known. The sculpture was originally installed in Paris. It was moved to its present location in 1976. The sculpture rests on a concrete platform near the river bank on the Ile d’Or, a small island in the Loire at Amboise. The statue faces the château but at an angle from slightly upstream.
Château de Cheverny
A majestic property that has been in the same family for more than six centuries, the Château de Cheverny is famous for its richly furnished interior. Cheverny is also known as the national centre for hunting with hounds.
the Equipage de Cheverny was founded in 1850 by the Marquis de Vibraye. Today only deer are hunted in the forest of Cheverny.
In the outbuildings of the château, a kennel shelters nearly a hundred beagles of the Anglo-French tricolor breed. Feeding time is a spectacular event, open to the public. No wonder, that we get there just in time for dogs feeding just to learn that public feeding cancelled “until further notice”. I asked one of employees on the reason, and he explained that it was done due to some protests. They considered hunting with dogs as a cruelty to wildlife, and as such protested any public exposure of it.
Chateau Royal Amboise
The royal estate of Château Gaillard
Europe’s most famous garden designer of the period worked for Charles VIII on his return from the first Italian war, and deployed all his skill in the royal estate of Château Gaillard from 1496.
He developed the garden spaces and created plant beds, the forerunners of French-style parterres with their geometric shape. The beds were divided by holly and featured a wide range of fruit trees. And to make sure the garden would be beautiful both in summer and winter, the soil was covered in pieces of slate, earthenware or fragments of tuffeau stone.
At the same time, research in agronomy enabled Pacello da Mercogliano to acclimatise the first orange and lemon trees in France, using heated greenhouses and crate planters. If we bear in mind that oranges were still a rare and precious fruit even in the mid 20th century, we can easily imagine the challenge of growing citrus fruits in the year 1500! The king also gave Dom Pacello the royal estate of Château Gaillard for 60 sous (a French unit of currency) and a bouquet of orange flowers once a year.
Château du Clos Lucé – house Leonardo da Vinci
King Francis I and Louise de Savoie invite Leonardo da Vinci to Amboise. King Francis I, passionate by Leonardo da Vinci’s talent, names him “ Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect of the King” and offers him the enjoyment of the Château of Clos Lucé, located only a few meters away from the Château d’Amboise. The national archives in Paris own a certificate for payement mentioning the pension from Francis I to Leonardo da Vinci « To Master Lyenard de Vince, Italian painter, the sum of 2000 ecussoleil, for his pension of
two years ».
Leonardo spends the last three years of his life at the Château of Clos Lucé and works on several projects for the king of France, surrounded by his students. He welcomes prestigious visitors like the Cardinal of Aragon, great men of the kingdom, Italian ambassadors and fellow artists present in the king’s court, like Domenico da Cortona, known as the Boccador and Chambord’s future architect.
An underground passage between the two castles allowsboth men to meet frequently. Today, only the first meters are still visible.
After a fascinating relationship between Leonardo da Vinci and three French Kings(Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I), the Italian Master passes away on May the 2 nd 1519 in his room at the Château du Clos Lucé.