Leonardo da Vinci, 500 years after the genius’s death: the celebrations to start

Five hundred years ago, in Amboise, Leonardo da Vinci died. And from the city in the Loria Valley, where the Tuscan genius symbol of the Italian Renaissance, spent the last years of his life, as a guest of the king of France Francis I, the partying in great style starts, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his death, which occurred on May 2, 1519. The president of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron will visit the tomb of Leonardo in the royal castle and in the Clos Luce, the sumptuous manor house in the vicinity of which Leonardo lived and died. Among the personalities who will speak at the ceremony, there will be, among others, the Italian architect Renzo Piano and the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

The tensions between France and Italy

The joint celebrations of the inventor, artist and scientist come after months of diplomatic tensions between Paris and Rome, strengthened by the support of the Italian government to the French gilet jaunes, to the point that France had come to the point of briefly recalling its ambassador in Rome. Mattarella’s Europeanism has been essential in alleviating the tension, from Macron’s offices leaks. And after that last Saturday the yellow vests have rallied right in Amboise, the town of 13 thousand inhabitants shows up armored to the appointment.

Arriving in France, Leonardo brought with him three of his favorite paintings: the Mona Lisa, the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist – all of which are currently exposed at the Louvre, to whom Italy in October will give other masterpieces of the genius from Vinci for a dedicated exhibition-event. And the fact that the Paris museum possesses 5 Da Vinci paintings (and 22 drawings) on less than twenty still existing throughout the world, in the past was reason for discontent of the Italian part.

Leonardo and Francis I

Francis I, the “Sun King of the Sixteenth century”, was the one who brought France the Renaissance, completing the process begun by Louis XII, who had started to invite architects and craftsmen from Florence, Milan and Rome. Leonardo was 64 years old when he accepted the invitation of the barely 23-year-old French king, in a time when Michelangelo and Raffaello were the new rising stars. He had a great salary as “first painter, engineer and architect of the king”. In his three years in Amboise, he organised sumptuous festivities for the court and worked to design an ideal city in the nearby Romorantin. Macron and Mattarella today will visit the castle of Chambord, of which the central staircase double helix is attributed to Leonardo, although the first stone was laid 4 months after his death.

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