It is a struggle epitomized by the fate of da Vinci's The Last Supper
. It wasn't a code or a mystery, but a task of herculean and largely unsung effort: How to protect Italy's cultural treasures some of the greatest art that Western Civilization has ever known from both the Nazis and the ravages of war.
The Last Supper
, already deteriorating due to the ravages of time, was further damaged in 1943 when an Allied bomb directly hit the building that housed it. The only thing that preserved this most famous mural was the protective sandbagging and scaffolding that prevented the wall from crumbling and the mural from bomb debris damage. But for the foresight to protect and the impetus to repair and restore the famous painting, it well might have been lost.
Word that The Last Supper
had been saved from near...
Beyond the Book
The Last Supper
, completed by Leonard da Vinci in 1498, is one of Western civilization's great cultural touchstones. Housed in the refectory of the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, this late 15th century work was commissioned as part of planned renovations to the convent and church buildings by da Vinci's patron, Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. The painting, which measures about 15 by 39 feet, depicts the desciple's immediate reactions following Christ's announcement that one of them will betray him before dawn. In spite of the emotional chaos that rings throughout the scene, the composition is ordered and serene. Christ's head is at the center of the composition, and the angling of the walls within the picture lead back to windows that display a view...