Book review: Leonardo and the Last Supper, By Ross King

 

King has conjured up an absorbing Renaissance case study: Leonardo's Milanese masterpiece comes to life when we learn that the Afghan ultramarine used for Christ's mantle cost the same per ounce as the annual rent of a house, while the actual supper has recently been revealed as "eel garnished with slices of orange".

This luxurious treat may have been a joke aimed at fasting friars. King notes that the "ghostly evanescence" of the painting, a consequence of Leonardo's inexperience with murals, "has only enhanced its fame."

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