This eight-metre-wide painting is a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, depicting the part of the Bible where Jesus announces at dinner that one of his 12 loyal supporters (apostles) will betray him before sunrise.

This version is oil paint on canvas, whereas Leonardo’s version was painted in tempera and oil on a dry wall – an unusual use of materials – so has flaked and deteriorated badly. It probably didn’t help that Napoleon used the original Last Supper’s room as a stable during his invasion of Milan. This painting is thought to have been painted by Giampietrino and possibly Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio – both pupils of Leonardo. It’s believed to be the most accurate record of the original, and has been used to help with its conservation.

In this copy you can see details now not visible in the original, such as this overturned salt-cellar next to Judas’s right arm. Spilled salt was commonly considered a bad omen in 16th-century western Europe. You can also see Jesus’s feet, which were lost in the original when a door was built into the wall that the work is painted on.


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