An enthusiastic patron of the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci, this king persuaded the great Italian Renaissance master to make France his home in his later years. (Leonardo brought with him his Mona Lisa, and the famous painting remains in Paris today.) It was even said that the king cradled Leonardo as the great master lay on his deathbed, the king receiving his last breath.
Francis I indeed brought the Renaissance to France, filling the royal palaces with hundreds of paintings and sculptures by the great masters of the day. A man of letters, he also supported writers and added thousands of manuscripts to the royal library.
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Editor’s Note: The featured image is “The Death of Leonardo da Vinci” (1818), a painting by the French artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, courtesy of Wikipedia. The top image is a portrait of Francis I of France (c. 1530) by Joos van Cleve.