The mechanical lion

Renato Boaretto, maître d'art2009 - 2009

Castle of Clos Lucé

Castle of Clos Lucé
Amboise, France

From 1517 to 1518, at Le Clos Lucé in Amboise, Leonardo da Vinci soon designed and arranged magical shows and extraordinary spectacles, becoming a master in the art of special effects. As a result he became the grand organiser of royal festivities.

In 1517, in Argentan, a celebration was organised to mark the visit of Francis I to his sister, Marguerite of Angoulême. A letter written by Anastasio Turrioni to Federico Gonzaga, hostage at the French court in 1516 and 1517, gives a description of it: "In the street there was a ferocious lion. A hermit gave to his Majesty a rod, with which he struck the lion three times, which opened: inside all was turquoise, with in the middle a fleur-de-lys." Few of da Vinci's drawings allude to this prodigious automaton. However, as Giovan Paolo Lomazzo and Michelangelo Buonarroti suggest, this mechanical lion that walked towards the king and whose belly then split open, spilling out fleurs-de-lys, does appear to have come from the imagination of Leonardo da Vinci.


  • Title: The mechanical lion
  • Creator: Renato Boaretto, maître d'art
  • Creator Lifespan: 1942
  • Creator Birth Place: Venice
  • Date: 2009 - 2009
  • Physical Dimensions: w2,10 x h1,35 m
  • Permanent exhibition: Château du Clos Lucé
  • Culture: XXI century
  • Provenance: Château du Clos Lucé
  • Type: Model
  • Rights: Collection Château du Clos Lucé
  • Medium: Wood, leather, metal (iron, brass, steel)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps