(b. 1452, Vinci, d. 1519, Cloux, near Amboise)

Sketch for the Royal Palace of Romorantin

Pencil drawing
Royal Library, Windsor

Leonardo's claim to being a practicing architect was based on sketches for representative secular buildings. In his project for the Royal Palace of Romorantin, his pencil sketches clearly reveal his mastery of technical as well as artistic architectural problems.

The grandest of Leonardo's plans for a residential structure dates from the last years of his career, when he was in France. His scheme for the château at Romorantin, involving a large rectangular palace block, formal gardens and a rectangular network of canals, has been reconstructed from a group of sketches. The style appears to marry indigenous French elements, such as the round corner towers, with Italian Renaissance elements in a way that is typical of Leonardo's undogmatic exploitation of Classical vocabulary. His sense of form and function ultimately took precedence over strict allegiance to Classical rules.