What did the earliest painters who attempted to copy Leonardo's "The Last Supper" have to work with? Was the painting perhaps a little faded but all detail still quite recognizable - or - did they have to guess
and paint more than observe and paint?
Right-click on Leonardo's picture below to review a picture of his painting that even in our modern era was seriously degraded. Examine carefully the "face" of the disciple in question to Jesus' right, the one da Vinci Code theorists claim is Mary Magdalene.
In the picture of "The Last Supper" that will be displayed, note especially the general decomposition of the "face" of the disciple to Jesus' right - and in particular - are the eyes open or closed
Now - once again right-click on the picture of Leonardo below. In this next
picture of "The Last Supper" which is also in decline (but at a different time) - are the same eyes of the same disciple open or closed
(Note that after this picture displays it may be "ZOOMED" 1x for a better look by right-clicking on it again)
That's right! The eyes are closed in picture one
but open in picture two
Somewhere along the way - because of the poor state of the painting - because they had to guess
at what Leonardo had painted - someone changed the painting
during a restoration process.
So - what else
did one (or more) of the many painters over the centuries change because they could not make out what the great master had originally painted because only faint colors and outlines remained at the time of their attempts to paint or restore it?
Retrieve again the first painting and look at the "face" of the disciple in question. The right eye, the nose, the mouth and chin are obliterated !!
An artist trying to restore those features would have no choice but to guess
at what Leonardo originally painted there. Sure he or she could probably come close - but is that good enough when the identity of the disciple is so much in question?
Again - the clear evidence provided by the painting itself is one of alteration
, one time the painting displayes the eyes of the disciple as being open, another time closed. Neither "Teabing" nor we are seeing Leonardo's painting, only shadows of it's orginal "self" and even that we cannot be sure originated with him beyond basic outlines and a flake of color here and a flake of color there.
Consider this when examining the decomposed state of the "face" in question:
The "features" of the disciple in question may or they may not
be "feminine". Even in the modern-day picture of example one, it is impossible to tell and since Leonardo was of the Florentine School - what restoring artist would not have intentionally painted "feminine" features instead of more masculine ones in guessing
how Leonardo might
have painted the face in the spirit of The Florentine School's tradition ??
There simply were no copies painted, not even the one maintained at the Tongerlo Abbey since 1545 and a copy by Giovan Pietro Rizzoli completed in 1549, that accurately portray exactly what Leonardo had painted. Both of these copies themselves were made at the earliest only seven years before the painting was declared "unrecognizable" in 1556
by Leonardo's biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574).
Clearly - basing claims that the disciple to Jesus' right is Mary Magdalene because the figure "looks" feminine is simply not a sustainable argument. The painting was in such an advanced stage of decomposition by the time even the first copies were attempted, arguing today that the disciple was "feminine" is as flawed as the centuries of failed and botched attempts at restoration have been.
Again - go back and look at example number one
. If the painting was that deteriorated in relatively modern times (yet is still more or less "recognizable") - how much less likely that a painting in an even more deterioated state and declared "unrecognizable" has the "face" and "hint of a bosom" even remotely restored close to what Leonardo originally painted? Highly doubtful given the evidence.
Finally - is the coup d’état
to the "da Vinci Code" argument regarding the identity of the disciple to Jesus' immediate right, the one Leonardo clearly did not mean for us to interpret as leaning away
from him but leaning toward
Peter, the one to whom Mary Magdalene ran
to announce Jesus' body was missing from the tomb - is the "gender" assigned to that dicsiple by Leonardo himself to be found buried in his notes ???
The answer when time permits - and Grrr82CU