I had the privilege of studying the panels of Giorgio Vasari’s Last Supper during a visit to the Opificio dell Pietra Dura workshop in Florence’s Fortezza di Basso last March.
Given the condition of the painting at that time, it was difficult to believe that the restored panels would be ready to hang once again in their place of honor in the Basilica of Santa Croce by early November of this year.
On November 4, exactly fifty years from the date that Vasari’s work was inundated and nearly destroyed in 1966, the work was unveiled in its original home.
It is difficult to put in to words what this means to Florentines. When Cimabue’s Crucifixion was restored and unveiled, the city expressed the same deep sense of pride they do now. Florentines are justifiably proud of their artistic heritage, no more so than when a Renaissance treasure by Vasari comes once again to life.
This is no small piece of art. The completed work measures 8.6 Feet (262 cm) high by 19 Feet (580 cm) wide.
For forty-six years the panels were kept in secure storage, awaiting the moment when art restoration would successfully meet the scientific techniques required to carefully and lovingly repair the painting. It was in 2012 that the panels were moved to the Opificio della Pietra Dura in Florence to begin the process of ‘rebirth’.
Vasari’s opus joins several other master works at Santa Croce, including Taddeo Gaddi’s Last Supper.
Below are some photographs taken shortly after the flood submerged this masterpiece for over thirty-six hours, as well as photos of the work’s recent restored unveiling.
In a word? GO!