Newly-restored Last Supper returns to Santa Croce

Giorgio Vasari's 'The Last Supper' back on display in Santa Croce

 FLORENCE -- Giorgio Vasari's 'The Last Supper,' newly and expertly restored after being seriously damaged by water and mud in the Florence flood 50 years ago, is now back on display in Santa Croce in this Tuscan city.

 “Fifty years after the flood of Florence, reappears the great painting by Giorgio Vasari that only a few can remember to have seen -- ‘The Last Supper,’ that water and mud engulfed in a room of the Museum of Opera di Santa Croce, Nov., 1966. This is an extraordinary story of studies, hopes, restoration and technological development; the generosity of patrons and expectations which made the return of a masterpiece to the world possible. That which appeared shrouded in darkness forever, has returned to light and colour: Last Supper is a story that looks into the future”, says Irene Sanesi, president of Opera di Santa Croce.

 The Last Supper by Giorgio Vasari from Santa Croce was considered almost impossible to recover, and thus remained for 40 years in the deposits of Superintendence. Its restoration represents a victory over a challenge that the Opificio delle Pietre Dure faced starting with 2004 and was brought to completion thanks to its manifold nature of operational laboratory, research institute and restoration school. Their multifaceted strategies have helped to build an innovative project which achieved results that were better than expected, making use of the resources provided by Protezione Civile, Getty Foundation and Prada, along with the customary support of the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, according to Marco Ciatti, superintendent of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.

 "The Return of ‘The Last Supper’ by Giorgio Vasari in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence 50 years after the Arno’s flood,” said the Minister of cultural goods and tourism, Dario Franceschini, “is the fruit of the virtuous cooperation between public and private in the protection of cultural heritage rewarded by Artbonus. Thanks to the professionalism of the restorers of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, an Italian excellence that is recognized and appreciated internationally, to the generosity of two different realities, Prada and Getty Foundation, and the support of the Department of Civil Protection it is possible to give back today to Florence and the world a masterpiece, long considered irrecoverable because of the serious damage caused by mud and water. The same excellence, the same determination and, I am sure, the same generosity are and will be at the service of the cultural heritage of Central Italy hit hard by the earthquake."

 ‘The Last Supper’ was painted by Giorgio Vasari in 1546 for the refectory of the Murate monastery, Benedictine cloister located in the via Ghibellina. With the suppression of religious orders (1808-1810) implemented by the French government, then settled in Florence following the annexation of Tuscany to France, this monastery was closed, its property confiscated and transferred to stores of the city. The Last Supper was moved to the convent of San Marco and in 1815, transferred to the Castellani Chapel in Santa Croce. Here it remained for over fifty years until the 1880s, when it was moved to the old refectory, or Upper Room of the convent, already destined to become a museum space. With the expansion of the Museum between 1959 and 1962, the great oil painting on canvas was in the current first room, where it remained submerged by water and mud Nov. 4, 1966.

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Restoration work to the painting destroyed by water and mud