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Work in focus: The Last Supper


Tuesday 10 July 2018
11am — 12pm

This event has now ended

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Part of our

The Making of an Artist: The Great Tradition

events programme
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Attributed to Pupils of Leonardo and Attributed to Giampietrino and Attributed to Marco D' Oggiono and Attributed to Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, The Last Supper (detail), ca. 1515-1520.

Purchased from H. Fraville in 23 June 1821.

Oil on canvas. 3020 mm x 7850 mm. © Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

Senior Curator Helen Valentine uncovers the extraordinary journey of the Academy’s Renaissance copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’.

Dating from no later than 1520, this full-sized copy of The Last Supper was painted by one or more of Leonardo’s pupils, probably with access to his original drawings and cartoons for the work. It is first recorded in a Carthusian Monastery in Pavia in the late 1500s, and shows many details that have disappeared from Leonardo’s original fresco. Guidebooks from the 17th century declared it as “beautiful as the original”.

This superb copy gave the students of Henry Fuseli RA, who was Professor of Painting and Keeper at the Royal Academy in the early 19th century, the extraordinary privilege of “contemplating and brooding over the ideas” in one of the greatest of all Renaissance masterpieces. Bought by the Royal Academy in 1821 for the huge sum of 600 guineas, Fuseli declared that it had been “rescued from a random pilgrimage by the courage and vigilance of our President”, Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA.

This talk will consider the history of the copy’s “pilgrimage” both before and after the Academy’s purchase and discuss who might have painted it.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Tuesday 10 July 2018

11am — 12pm

The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£10, £6 concessions.