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We know that Francis l. was at Amboise, amongst other periods, from September 3 to September 19, from November 4 to November 29, from December 5 to December 28, in 1516; on January 1 and 2, and from December 13 to 31 in 1517; and from January 3 to March 31, in 1518.
Leonardo was assigned the little manor house of Cloux, standing between the Castle and the town of Amboise.
This residence, built by Etienne le Loup, steward of Louis XI., had been bought, in 1490, with all the lands attached to it, by Charles VIII. for the sum of 3,500 gold crowns. It had afterwards passed into the hands of the Comte de St. Pol; thence into those of the Duc d'Alençon, and finally, into the possession of Queen Louise de Savoie, mother of Francis I. The manor house, now known under the name of Clos-Lucé, has been tastefully restored. It is at present the property of M. G. Saint-Bris.1
“ The house, built of brick and white stone, has a sunny aspect, and is sheltered on the north by the hill. It consists of two corps de logis, forming a square. In the inner angle of this square rises an elegant winding staircase, of octagonal shape.” “ Leonardo,” says Anatole de Montaiglon, from whom I borrow this description, “has leaned on the window-sills of the two storeys, his feet have trodden the staircase, his step has passed through all the eight large rooms of which the dwelling is composed; and in the quiet house, which has not altered, externally at least, since those days, we can imagine we see him yet.” We are assured that the room in which he breathed his last is still in existence, with its raftered ceiling, its huge hearth, and its general aspect of austerity.
The aged and illustrious painter described his residence as a palace. “ June 24, S. John's Day,” (a feast dear to every Florentine heart !) “1518, at Amboise, nel palazzo del Clli. (sic)” is the entry in his own hand in one of his note books (Richter, vol. ii. p. 417). been occasionally attributed to Leonardo (a Visitation, a Virgin and Child, an Assumption). Arsène Houssaye fancied he recognised through the repaints in the head of a Madonna, an angel's head by Melzi, or some Milanese artist. The Marquis de Laborde, however, considers that none of these works bear the slightest resemblance to Leonardo's manner, and even believes them to belong to a period much earlier than that of his residence at Amboise. (La Renaissance des Arts à la Cour de France, vol. i., p. 196.)
1 Réunions des Sociétés des Beaux Arts des Departements, 1893, p. 784.