In the Presence of Leonardo Da Vinci

The Chateau Clos Lucé in Amboise France was Da Vinci’s home for the last 3 years of his life.

The Chateau du Clos Lucé, where Leonardo Da Vinci spent his last years (1516-1519) is truly a magical place. Surrounding the chateau is an extensive park filled with trees and winding waterways. It has been transformed into an outdoor exhibit featuring full sized working models of Da Vinci’s inventions based on his sketches. Groups of school children move between the models, each getting a chance to turn the cranks which activate them, as their teacher describes da Vinci’s purpose and methods.

Paddleboats, one of many Da Vinci designs on the grounds of the museum.

The grounds of Clos Lucé are beautiful.

Sunlight and shadow filter through huge translucent banners of Leonardo’s drawings and paintings. Sitting on a bench in the park we listen to da Vinci describing his fascination with flight. A sudden breeze lifts the drawings of the flying machines Leonard imagined as his words float around us.

Banners of DaVinci’s drawings exploring the possibility of flight sway in the breeze.

Light filters through banners featuring DaVinci’s drawings.

After the garden we tour the chateau, including da Vinci’s bedroom, studio, and workshops. I am fascinated by the display of pigments and mediums used to create paints in Da Vinci’s time. A loaded palette and brushes sit below a reproduction of a Da Vinci painting. Scientific models line the shelves along with natural examples of mathematical principals—such as the spiral of a ram’s horn—reminding us of Da Vinci’s curiosity and breath of interests. A series of small sketch books are on display in a glass case. Could they be original? It almost seems impossible they could have survived.

The recreation of Da Vinci’s studio is filled with examples of his materials and interests.

A palette and brushes sit ready to use beneath an easel.

Da Vinci’s science library and desk.

DaVinci’s notebooks, filled with ideas and possibilities.

Another room features a holographic recreation of a conversation between Da Vinci and the Cardinal of Aragon inviting Leonardo to be the king’s guest in Amboise. They speak about Da Vinci’s work, and admire the Mona Lisa sitting on a easel behind them, before dissolving into thin air leaving us with just the room and its contents.

In a holographic recreation Da Vinci receives an invitation to pursue his work in Amboise, France.

In the lower floor we wander through rooms of working models and animations, finally emerging into the bright sunlit gardens, carrying with us a new appreciation of Da Vinci’s genius and endless curiosity about the world around him. 

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