Monitor all the news of the world: `The Last Supper' Criticisms of the recently unveiled restoration of Leonardo da Vinci's celebrated work
Saturday 29 May 1999
WHAT WE have is an archaeologically correct reconstruction, but one is always aware that a large part of what one is looking at is actually a brand-new picture. Essentially, a restoration such as this is an act of arrogance. It is undertaken in the belief that the restorers of today can do better than their predecessors. It is far from obvious that they have. They have produced a Last Supper for the 21st century - cool, technologically state-of-the-art and a bit soulless. It isn't a disaster, because The Last Supper was already a wreck, but it is still a restoration that needn't, and shouldn't, have happened. (Martin Gayford)
WHAT WE are likely to end up with is a sort of hybrid: part preservation, part restoration, part late-20th century fancy - despite all the technology at the modern restorer's disposal - and part desecration and loss. Nothing is got for nothing. But perhaps it is time to let Leonardo's painting go, or to realise that what we now have is not a Leonardo at all, but a palimpsest. The painting is now, inevitably, a distorted mirror of the artist's original and a true likeness, not of Christ and his disciples, but of our hubris. (Adrian Searle)
WE CAN now see the breathtaking grandeur of the figures in their interlinking of glance and gesture. Magnificent details of drawing and intact passages of flesh painting, and the still life on the table bathed in an airy light, have been discovered. It is too simplistic to talk of getting back to the original when the original is often not there, but today we are one step closer to understanding Leonardo's intentions. (Sarah Walden)
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