During 2019, the Loire Valley in France will mark 500 years since two major events influenced its history. In 1519 it was the birthplace of the French Renaissance, initiated by the young king, Francis I. The year also marked the death of one of the world’s greatest artists, Italian-born Leonardo da Vinci ‘First Painter, Engineer and Architect to the King’, who died in France on May 2 at Château du Clos Lucé, Amboise.

Leonardo da Vinci

Both events are intrinsically linked by the remarkable relationship between Leonardo and Francis, who shared their passion for humanism, and appreciation of Italian Renaissance art and architecture, visually realised in the magnificent châteaux of the Loire Valley. It will be acknowledged during a year of special events and major exhibitions dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci across Europe.

The respect which the French royal family had for da Vinci was mirrored by Italian patrons, in Florence, Milan and Rome. His professional life impacted across many fields, initially on the natural world, leading toward anatomical research of the human body – illegal in Italy – and experimentation in science, engineering and architecture. These subjects, and his perceptive theories on art,...

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