“Chateau de Chenonceau: a gem on the river Cher”

“Château de Chenonceau”, 2003, Photo by Robert Leedy, Charcoal on paper
“Château de Chenonceau”, 2003, by Robert Leedy, Charcoal on paper, Whereabouts Unkown

Monica, Gary, Vicky & I arrived at Chateau de Chenonceau much later than planned. I wanted to paint the chateau in watercolor but time was against me. Although it was late summer in Northern Europe (it doesn’t get dark until later), I opted to draw the chateau rather than paint it. Charcoal is fast and almost like painting in the sense that you can cover a lot of ground in a short span of time.

The chateau has a very interesting design and its history is equally interesting: the property – as a manor – goes back to the 11th Century and the chateau was built sometime during the 15th Century. In 1547, when 28-year-old Henry II succeeded his father as King of France, his beautiful mistress, Diane de Poitiers, a widow of a long deceased Count, was 48. It is believed that Henry’s father also had been intimate with Diane. Henry gave Chenonceau to Diane as a gift of love. Diane later became a Duchess and was one of the most influential women in the kingdom. Henry’s Queen, Catherine de Medici, was extremely jealous of Henry’s attraction to Diane as well as her power & influence over state affairs. Catherine even had a hole drilled into their bedroom at Chenonceau to see why Henry was so enthralled with a woman 20 years his senior. Diane made vast improvements at Chenonceau including incredible gardens on the property. After Henry was killed in a jousting tournament in 1559, Catherine de Medici began her revenge on Diane de Poitiers by booting her out of the Chenonceau digs. Eager to erase Diane’s presence at Chenonceau, Catherine took on ambitious projects of improving the estate, including a garden that put Diane’s to shame….

It was from this garden – along the river – where I chose to sketch the chateau. I worked diligently for an hour or so, then we broke for a marvelous picnic of sausages, bread, cheese, fruit & wine.

Read more about our visit:

“American Hooligans Invade Château de Chenonceau”


About this entry