Italian inventor, designer, and painter Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life living in the Château du Clos Lucé where he died on May 2, 1519. In honor of that anniversary, the presidents of France and Italy visited today to mark the occasion.
Comme ambassadeur de @RCValdeLoire pour le 500e anniversaire de la #Renaissance et de la mort de Léonard de Vinci, je serai heureux d’accueillir ce 2 mai, aux côtés de @fbonneau, les présidents de la République française et italienne @ChateauAmboise @closluce @domainechambord pic.twitter.com/RCaaBAdj1k— Stéphane Bern (@bernstephane) May 2, 2019
Les cinq cents ans de la disparition de Léonard de Vinci ont été ce jour l’occasion d’un grand moment de partage entre l’Italie et la France. pic.twitter.com/OIvDpJ3mfJ— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 2, 2019
We had a chance to visit the château during our bike trip through the Loire Valley two years ago. It may not be the most architecturally ambitious of the region’s numerous castles, but the design and the story involving Da Vinci makes it certainly noteworthy. Most people know that his Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre in Paris. But his brief time in France is less well-known.
Da Vinci was 64 when he left Rome in 1516. The three years prior, he had been living at the Vatican under the patronage of the Pope. But after King Francis I of France invaded Northern Italy, he convinced Da Vinci to move to this region southwest of Paris to work on his behalf. Among the works he brought with him: the Mona Lisa.
The king gave him a pension and use of Clos Lucé. Built in 1471, it has a red brick and white stone façade. Among his most notable works during his three years year was designing the famous double spiral staircase in the nearby Château de Chambord, which is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year.
Da Vinci hosted the king on occasion, and continued to fill books with drawings and sketches until his death. He reportedly died of a stroke. He was originally buried in the region, though thanks to various historical upheavals over the centuries, the location of his body is a bit of a mystery.
Clos Lucé is hosting events throughout the year related to Da Vinci.