[Editor’s note: A recent feature story in the magazine tells the tale of how Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa came to hang in Paris’s Louvre Museum. “Five hundred years ago, Leonardo came to live in France at the invitation of the French king, François I, who had a passion for Italian art. Amboise, a royal town spanning the River Loire, was to be Leonardo’s home.” Read the full article here.]
With François I as patron, Leonardo da Vinci received a handsome pension to live in Amboise. He is known to have put his engineering genius to good use to help create lavish celebrations and even drew up plans to link the River Loire with the Saône via canal.
Upon Leonardo’s death in 1519, a distraught François I brought the artist’s remains to the royal château at Amboise. He was buried in the collegiate church of St Florentin. However, in the early 19th century, the artist’s resting place was disturbed when a new owner of the royal château and its associated buildings demolished the church.
It was thought that the final resting place of the artist had been lost forever, but an archaeological dig in 1863 discovered a skeleton and the fragments of a tomb with markings that put beyond doubt that it was da Vinci’s. The bones were gathered and in 1874 buried in the château’s current chapel of St Hubert, where art lovers and tourists now come to pay their respects.
To mark 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci’s residence in the Loire between 1516 and 1519, there are numerous exhibitions and celebratory events over the forthcoming three-year period, in particular in Amboise and at his ‘home’, the Château du Clos-Lucé. To learn more, visit the website here: www.vinci-closluce.com/en
From France Today magazine