Château du Clos Lucé

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Leonardo the painter and sculptor


For Leonardo da Vinci, painting was the supreme art of representation and sculpture, a formidable technical challenge. For him, art went beyond appearances and attempted to reveal the mystery hidden behind everything.

Shadows and lights

The details of the canvases displayed in the Parc Leonardo da Vinci at Le Clos Lucé illustrate the art and techniques of Leonardo da Vinci. The treatment of light and shade in his paintings enabled him not only to create an enhanced sense of volume, but also to dramatise the scenes. Leonardo did not leave a large number of works for posterity, but the quality of those that he did produce is undeniable. In particular, he developed the sfumato technique, which consisted of wrapping figures and background in a smoky vapour, which gives his portraits and landscapes such a mysterious quality. All these qualities found their fulfilment in Leonardo da Vinci’s works: The Mona Lisa (1503), The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (1502) and Saint John the Baptist (1513), brought by the artist to the Château du Clos Lucé, and also the fresco of The Last Supper (1495) at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, The Virgin of the Rocks (1483), and so on.

Paint as close to reality as possible

To paint as closely as possible to reality, the Tuscan artist studied human and animal anatomy. The originality of his approach was to be interested in veins as “soft matter” (internal organs), in young and old alike. Far from limiting himself to the traditional theories of proportion, illustrated by his iconic Vitruvian Man, the artist was always thinking of his models in terms of their function, and their internal structure. He was thus able to get a better grasp of the movements, the strength, and – as he thought – the soul of the creatures that he portrayed.

A colossal equestrian monument

The greatest sculpture produced by Leonardo da Vinci was without doubt the equestrian monument that he produced in honour of the father of Ludovico il Moro, Francesco Sforza. This was a life-size monument in bronze, and casting the enormous mass posed real technical problems. Leonardo da Vinci solved this technical problem by using several furnaces for melting the metal, but he did not have the chance to test out his revolutionary process: Ludovico il Moro ended up by using all the metal that he had collected together to cast cannons.