The Search for the Last Supper

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Studios A&B

On the heels of the staggering news that Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting recently sold for $450.3 million comes the revelation that for over 450 years, the Abbey of Tongerlo in Belgium has housed a canvas version of Leonardo’s celebrated Last Supper fresco—showing what the severely damaged mural in Milan originally looked like.  After an intense survey of archives in Italy, France and Belgium, art historians Prof. Jean-Pierre Isbouts and Dr. Christopher Brown reveal in a new TV documentary, “The Search for The Last Supper,” and their book Young Leonardo (Thomas Dunne Press/St. Martin’s Press, 2017), that the Abbey’s oil-on-canvas painting was executed by Leonardo’s Milan studio, involving his best associatesjust eight years after the original fresco was completed.

However, this painting on canvas is now in dire need of restoration, which is estimated to cost around 500,000 Euros. This has inspired the launch of a U.S. fundraising effort in partnership with The King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS), based in New York. The effort to save the painting will kick-off with the American premiere screening of the film; a talkback with Brown and Isbouts; followed by a reception sponsored by The General Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the USA.

A suggested charitable donation for the restoration effort is $100, which is tax deductible. Checks should be made out to The King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS), a U.S. public charity which facilitates thoughtful, effective giving to Europe and Africa. Credit card donations can also be accepted on location at the event. Corporate donations over $5,000 are welcome. (Please mail any donations to KBFUS, 10 Rockefeller Plaza -16th Floor, New York, NY 10020.) All who donate to the restoration effort at the event will receive a complimentary autographed copy of the book, Young Leonardo by Isbouts and Brown, which is the companion book to the film.

Among others, the “Last Supper” film details evidence that the painting was commissioned by King Louis XII of France, and duly delivered to the Château de Gaillon near Paris in 1509. After the death of the king and his prime minister, Georges d’Amboise, the painting was sold to the Abbot of the newly formed Abbey of Tongerlo.