The Restoration

If it took Leonardo da Vinci presumably 5/6 years to accomplish his most ambitious painting (a mural of m. 4,6 x m. 8,8) it seems quite amazing that the most recent restoration work has spanned slightly more than two decades (1977 – 1999). The latest of at least 11 restoration campaigns conducted mostly from the mid 1600s onwards, no work of art has been so heavily compromised by interventions uncalled for.

The poor shape in which the mural reached us after centuries of painful and destructive retouches, the ravages of time and of World War II bombardments are some of the reasons that resulted in the most extensive and thorough campaign of restoration the painting has ever gone through.

Commissioned by the Superintendency for Architectural and Natural Heritage and carried out under the direction of Pinin Brambilla Barcilon and her team of restorers, Leonardo’s masterpiece has been scrutinized and studied in the tiniest speck of medium and we can reasonably argue that no painting has been so praised and inspiring: a veritable icon for generations of scholars, art historians, poets, writers, painters or more simply for mankind as a whole.

Today, although in fragments, the balanced beauty of Leonardo’s colours, the emotional intensity of his characters, the subtlety of each of the apostles’ features and the calm and remote stillness of Christ’s central figure can be again appreciated.
Divine but so truly human in his reaction to the one, amongst the beloved, who will betray, is just one of the reasons why the painting still triggers to our innermost feelings and envisages as a mirror reflection our own turmoil and sense of bewilderment.

Therefore no matter what our beliefs or knowledge of religious matters are, no work of art has ever been more mesmerizing and inspiring than Leonardo’s Last Supper.