Art Restoration of the Last Supper- Dr. Pinan Brambilla Barcillan Restoring Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is one of his most famous paintings. It took about four years for him to complete this mural. The theme of the artwork is the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. It is a piece that has been the subject of controversy for many different reasons.

The Last Supper Hidden Messages

Art is often symbolic and the symbols we recognize in a work of art depend on our background. Sometimes the symbols we see are different from the ones that the artist actually used or wanted others to take notice of.

Some symbols are only meant to be recognized by select groups of people. They carry a message that is supposed to be hidden from the society at large. This is the case with The Last Supper. It is said to have different levels of meaning for different people and to carry hidden messages.

The Last Supper- Leonardo Da Vinci

The Deterioration of the Painting

Leonardo Da Vinci is best known for being a creator and inventor. He had a reputation for pushing boundaries and developing new ways of doing things. In the mural, he used an experimental technique to bring his ideas to life. In less than fifteen years, the painting had started to deteriorate.

Art Restorers Attempt to Repair the Painting

Leonardo Da Vinci completed The Last Supper in 1497. A serious restoration was done in 1726 and several more were completed after that. Some resulted in additional damage to the mural, removing the colors that the artist used or making it easier for dust to accumulate on the surface.

Details in The Last Supper


Leonardo Da Vinci is world famous. The following artists are recognized for their work in their preferred media:

  • Eric Fischl watercolors
  • Romare Bearden collages
  • Printmaker Robert Blackburn

1977- Dr. Pinan Brambilla Barcillan Starts Restoration of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper

In 1977, almost 500 years after the painting was first completed, Dr. Pinan Brambilla Barcillan started restoring Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

The technology involved in art restoration had of course, greatly improved by that time and she was able to use chemicals that were less likely to damage the painting. She was also able to see tiny details in the artwork by using devices that magnified each area that she was interested in working on.

Earlier restorations had used solvent that removed some of the color from the painting. Dr. Pinan Brambilla Barcillan did not seek to guess what was there before. Instead she used neutral colors where paint was missing. Her work in restoring Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper has resulted in both praise and criticism and left her with damaged eyesight.

Art Restoration; the Culture, The Business, The Scandal

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Comments 2 comments

Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 3 years ago from Southeast Michigan

Art restoration is a fascinating topic. One is never sure if restoring a piece is a good idea or not--there are so many "what ifs" to consider: what if the restoration is not well-received? What if you're wrong about what color is "supposed" to be there? What if you accidentally damage the piece? Surely you're aware of the controversy surrounding the botched restoration of a fresco of Jesus Christ in the Spanish town of Borja last year.

Art restoration is, I imagine, a lot like archaeology. There's a lot of detective work, a lot of research, and a lot of guessing and hoping for the best. I wouldn't want the responsibility of cleaning and/or restoring famous works of art. There's too much global emotion riding on whether the restoration is successful or not.

Thanks for an interesting read.

jtrader profile image

jtrader 3 years ago Author

I like your comparison. It really is a lot like archaeology.

Art restoration is for those with a brave spirit and very thick skin ;-)

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