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France, 1516 – 1519

In late 1516, aged 64, Leonardo accepted an offer of employment at the court of the young King Francis I. He moved from Rome to Amboise in central France, where he served the king primarily as a designer – of architecture, festivals, costumes and another equestrian monument.

But Leonardo’s health was deteriorating. In October 1517 he was reported to have a paralysed right arm, perhaps from a stroke. He became increasingly obsessed by visions of a vast tempest overwhelming the earth, and made a long sequence of drawings of this apocalyptic deluge, sweeping all matter away.

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