The Last Supper
THE LAST SUPPER, LEONARDO DA VINCI, MILAN, ITALY
Henry James called it ‘an illustrious invalid’ while Aldous Huxley called it ‘the saddest work of art in the world’. Neither were talking about the subject matter of one of the world’s most important and moving works of art, but about centuries of appalling neglect, which saw Leonardo’s Last Supper assume the condition of a fly-blown poster on a subway wall.
You’ll find the painting in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. In a permanent process of restoration, due to its state of decay, first sight of it makes it clear exactly what James meant. People visit the painting ‘with leave-taking sighs and almost death bed or tiptoe precautions’ he noted, and such is its peeling, crumbling state that you cannot believe the painting will still be intact should you choose to visit again