Mellon Scholars Program: Leonardo da Vinci, Francis I, and the Struggle for International Prestige in 16th-Century France
Dr. Anne Heath, Hope College
Dr. William Pannapacker, Hope College
Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years at the Manoir du Cloux in the company of the French King, Francis I. In competition with other European states, Francis I did everything he could to forge an image of France as strong, balanced, and formidable—and the arts were an essential part of his quest for prestige. For that reason the King commissioned Leonardo to rebuild the Chateau de Romorantin, which became a major example of the aspirations of France in the 1500s. My project explores the planning, construction, and ultimate abandonment of Romorantin in the context of the larger fortunes of sixteenth-century France, the career of Leonardo, and the rule of Francis I; moreover, it explores how the arts have been a crucial element of state prestige power in the past, and, by implication, in the present.
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