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Hidden for 450 Years, A Renaissance Woman Artist's Version of 'The Last Supper' to be Unveiled Next Month

  • September 29, 2019 17:43

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DETAIL, The Last Supper, by Plautilla Nelli (1524-1588).
Advancing Women Artists, Italy

2019 is the widely publicized 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death and major museums are noting the great Renaissance master's genius with exhibitions, including the reservations-only blockbuster at the Louvre opening on October 24. The Paris show will have, after intense negotiations, some Leonardo loans from Italy.

One of the world's most-recognized paintings, Leonardo's masterpiece The Last Supper, will not travel for the show. As a fragile mural, the piece is part of the refectory wall of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

The public knows little about another The Last Supper masterwork of the Renaissace era, a version that has been hidden from view for 450 years. This Last Supper includes fabulous details like silver-stemmed glassware set before the disciples, soft features for the calmly meditative face of St. John, and a Latin inscription that is unusual for the era: "Sister Plautilla - Pray for the Paintress."

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Obscure to today's audiences, self-taught artist Plautilla Nelli (1524-1588) was a Dominican nun who came from a wealthy Florentine family. Her 21ft-long oil painting of The Last Supper, the only one known by a woman Renaissance artist, has been recently restored after a meticulous, four-year effort by conservator Rossella Lari. Private donations funded the restoration.

The 10-year-old nonprofit Advancing Women Artists, which aims to restore paintings and knowledge of women artists in Italy, will unveil the artwork in Florence this October. It will go on permanent display at the Santa Maria Novella Museum refectory in the city.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

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