“He used… to go early in the morning and climb up on the scaffolding, because the Last Supper is quite high above the ground. From dawn to dusk he would never lay down his brush, but forgot to eat and drink, painting continuously” (Matteo Bandello, Novella LVIII, 1497).You cannot live in Milan, visit Milan or leave Milan without seeing Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, especially on the eve of 2019, which will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death. So it is essential to book a visit. And the waiting times are long. It is useless to try to fit in a visit on a quick weekend trip. You need to plan well in advance and have plenty of patience. When, finally, you enter the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, you can contemplate the masterpiece for only a few minutes, so as not to jeopardise the state of preservation of the work. A few minutes that are worth a lot, and that we would like to extend indefinitely.
To perpetuate the magic of Leonardo's masterpiece (or to have a foretaste of it) there is now a book: L'Ultima Cena, by Pietro C. Marani, reissued in an updated edition by Electa on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death. The magnificent full-size images – captured by the lens of Antonio Quattrone immediately after the 1999 restoration, before the scaffolding was removed – enable us to appreciate the details in a way that it is impossible to do from life. The book is a sort of zoom, in which the power of the drawing and the purity of Leonardo's colours fill the pages: 100 plates of progressive enlargements, even showing some life-size details. A continuous surprise that, page after page, gives a unique and magnificent vision.