Da Vinci likely painted part of Belgium’s ‘The Last Supper’ replica
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Da Vinci likely painted part of Belgium’s ‘The Last Supper’ replica

© Abdij van Tongerlo
© Abdij van Tongerlo

Leonardo Da Vinci most likely had a hand in painting the version of The Last Supper that is displayed in the abbey of Tongerlo, in the East of Flanders according to an American professor.

A life-sized replica of one of Da Vinci’s most famous works, the The Last Supper fresco, has been owned by the Norbertijnen abbey in Tongerlo for over 450 years and was believed to be painted by Da Vinci’s students.

Even though Da Vinci is world famous, he did not leave a lot of paintings behind. Worldwide, only eighteen paintings can be reliably attributed to him.

However, now it seems that Da Vinci painted parts of the replica himself as well. Professor Jean-Pierre Isbouts, together with a team of scientists from Imec research institute, went over the canvas with multispectral cameras, that can reconstruct the different layers in a painting, and distinguish the restorations from the original.

One figure specifically catches the eye, according to Isbouts. John, the apostle on Jesus’ left side is painted with the special ‘sfumato’ technique. This is the same technique used to paint the Mona Lisa, and Da Vinci himself was the only artist that had mastered it, said Isbouts.

Additionally, the apostle John looks particularly androgynous, with distinct feminine traits, which is a recurring theme in Da Vinci’s other portraits, according to Isbouts. This could even be a second version of The Last Supper rather than just a copy, he added.

Isbouts’ theory will now have to be confirmed by other experts. An investigation into the pigments in the paint, to see if they match the ones in Da Vinci’s studio, is also ongoing.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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