Some men and women show such prodigious genius, standing head and shoulders over all their fellows, that they almost seem part of a different race. Leonardo da Vinci was such a man.
After a leading career in Renaissance Italy, where his genius sparkled over many fields of endeavour, Leonardo spent his later years in Amboise, by the River Loire, at the service of the French king François. At this time he lived at the Château du Clos Lucé, now a museum that we recently visited.
We found this museum interesting in giving some insight into Leonardo’s later life, and particularly his innovative designs and engineering that prefigured many modern inventions – helicopters, bridges, flying machines, pumps, armaments etc etc. This is reinforced by walking around the surrounding gardens, really a rather splendid shady park, containing examples of modern realisations of his designs.
However, there is little emphasis on his contribution as artist. Luckily, there was an exhibition From the Clos Lucé to the Louvre, in the exhibition hall, focusing on the three major works of art that Leonardo brought with him when he came to Amboise – La Giaconda, The Virgin, The Child Jesus and St Anne, and St Jean Baptist … and that enigmatic smile. This gave a much more balanced picture of this supreme Renaissance genius.
So, the Château du Clos Lucé is well worth a visit, but even more so while the exhibition is still there (until 15th November 2016).