Sunday, July 29, 2007

Secret Figures in 'Last Supper'?

MILAN (July 27) - A new theory that Leonardo's "Last Supper" might hide within it a depiction of Christ blessing the bread and wine has triggered so much interest that Web sites connected to the picture have crashed.

Computer analyst Slavisa Pesci claims he has discovered hidden figures in Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper," a 15th-century mural painting that depicts Jesus telling his apostles that one of them would betray him.

In this computer manipulation, Pesci superimposed a reverse version of the painting over the original.

In the middle of this left side of the manipulated version, Pesci says a figure appears to be cradling an infant.

He says that the two figures on either end of the long table appear to become knights.

I'm not really seeing it, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there. What many people do not realize is that Leonardo da Vinci constantly experimented with new types of pigmentation and new methods of painting which resulted in a great many of his works failing to survive. The Last Supper was one of these experiments. From Wikipedia:

When finished, the painting was acclaimed as a masterpiece of design and characterisation. But its artist was also denounced for the fact that it was no sooner finished than it began to fall off the wall. Leonardo, instead of using the reliable technique of fresco had experimented with different paint-binding agents, which were subject to mold and to flaking.

The Last Supper has been repaired so many times that little of what Leonardo actually painted is left. Of course the general layout and the position of the figures is still there so the "hidden figures" (if they are really there) could have been placed into the painting by design.

If so it would likely signify nothing beyond da Vinci's love of experimentation such as that seen in the Shroud of Turin in which Leonardo painted the figure of Christ with the wounds of crucifixion as though it were a photographic negative - before the invention of photography.