After France captured Milan, Italy in December of 1515, Leonardo da Vinci, who was living at the Vatican, was commissioned by King Francis I to design and develop a rather interesting, if not bizarre, prototype. It was a mechanical lion that could walk, stop, rear on its hind legs, and open its chest to present a cluster of lilies. I’m not sure how serious this was, because the design never got past one sketch by the master. However, Leonardo da Vinci accepted the job as the philosopher, architect, engineer, and painter, and moved to Amboise in the Loire Valley of central France in 1516.
By this time, Mr. da Vinci was 64 years old, and had lived a fulfilling life with the creation of many notable works of art, design, inventions, and writings. He was paid handsomely and was given the residence, Clos-Lucé, which was nearby the Royal Château of Amboise. If you haven’t seen it yet, please read my first post from this part of France, Finding Leonardo Da Vinci, My Visit to the Château d’Amboise.
Just outside of the Chapel of Saint-Hubert on the grounds of the Château d’Amboise, and, in front of this well manicured hedge, this is the great Leonardo da Vinci.
The Chapel of Saint-Hubert was built between 1491 and 1496, the time of great expansion around the château and when it was at its peak grandeur. In fact, the entire complex was much larger at that time than it is today. This is the side view of the chapel. The main entrance for tourists is just below.
The front façade of the chapel. Look at the detail on the archivolt. Let’s take a closer look…
Now, let’s go inside. Please be quiet.
The chapel is small and is somewhat separated into the nave and tomb area. I really liked the stained-glass windows. I’m not sure how old they are. If you’re in the Loire Valley, make sure you visit the cathedral at Tours, Saint Gatien’s Cathedral, which has amazing stained-glass windows. Let’s take a closer look at three inside the chapel…
The details of not only the stained-glass windows were intricate, but so were the features around it.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Final Years
Leonardo spent the last three years of his life at Amboise and became good friends with Francis I. He passed away on May 2, 1519 at the age of 67. Reportedly, and some say arguably, he died in the arms of Francis I. Upon Leonardo da Vinci’s death, he was entombed at this very spot, inside the Chapel of Saint-Hubert.
This plaque was not in English but commemorates the birth and death of Leonardo da Vinci.
A closer look at the statue, just outside where he now rests.
The death of Leonardo da Vinci marked the end of an era at the Château du Clos Lucé. Over subsequent years, there were numerous owners or tenants and the building was almost destroyed during the French Revolution. As for that lion prototype, interestingly, it was finally built from the original sketches in 2009. Please read, Pride of Da Vinci’s genius walks again after 500 years, from The Independent.
I hope you enjoyed this post. On my next post from the Loire Valley, Finding Leonardo Da Vinci, My Visit to Château du Clos Lucé, I’ll take you to Leonardo da Vinci’s last home at Clos Lucé. Please join me.
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