Updated: Jun 23, 2021
A painting of the Last Supper that has hung in a small church in England for the last century, turns out to be an invaluable Renaissance masterpiece.
Gifted a century ago to a small church in Ledbury, England, a 12'x5' painting of the Last Supper was in desperate need of restoration work. It was so dirty and the varnish so yellowed with age that in 2019, some parishioners recommended throwing it out. Instead, the church staff commissioned Ronald Moore, a conservator, to clean and restore the piece.
Moore spent 11,000 hours cleaning and researching the painting, and what he uncovered is amazing. He found it was actually painted by artists from the workshop of the Renaissance master Titian, and perhaps even by Titian himself.
Moore first discovered that the person who donated the painting was a descendant of a famous art collector, who had mentioned in a 1775 letter that he had purchased a Titian. Then when reviewing the canvas under ultraviolet light, Moore discovered Titian’s signature written on a jug.
Moore also compared the likeness of Titian himself to one of the characters in the painting, and the match was uncanny.
Finally, Moore found evidence of an underdrawing, which was only done by master painters.
Moore now believes that the piece was originally commissioned by a Venetian convent in 1560 and took about 20 years to complete. When Titian died of the plague in 1576, artists from his workshop completed the piece, adding the great artist’s face into the painting in honor of the master. Moore also believes that a number of the apostle’s faces were modeled after those of Titian’s children.
Since the painting has since been reinstalled in the church, people from all over the world have been visiting the restored masterpiece.
To read more about the restoration, check out Titian's Lost Last Supper.