Italian food chain to fund €1 million restoration of The Last Supper

The founder of Italian food chain Eataly will fund a hi-tech €1 million restoration of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper, aimed at preserving the delicate masterpiece.

Italian food chain to fund €1 million restoration of The Last Supper
File photo: AFP

Eataly entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti made the announcement on Thursday, at a Milan event with Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

The restoration will clean the air inside the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan where the world famous artwork is on display.

The adjustments to the convent's microclimate will not only improve the longevity of the painting, but will ensure more visitors can enter the convent to admire the work.

“The Last Supper is a fragile work of art which has been restored many times in its five-hundred years. But this is the first restoration which will guarantee it another five centuries of life,” noted Franceschini.

READ ALSO: Italian history buffs track down Da Vinci's relatives

In fact, very little of the original painting – which depicts Jesus seated at his last meal before crucifixion with his twelve apostles – is still intact.

Da Vinci biographers described it as “ruined” just a few decades after its completion, due to humidity in the convent and the method of painting directly onto a dry wall.

Further damage has been caused through attempts at restoration gone wrong, and Allied bombing in the Second World War.

Dario Franceschini said he hoped the project would inspire other private businesses to help fund cultural projects. Recent years have seen a string of famous Italian sites renovated with funds from private donors, many of them from the luxury fashion sector.

An insurance company announced last week it would finance a restoration of Venice's Royal Gardens, just days after fashion house Gucci said it would fund a revamp of the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

Other sites to have received makeovers from private donors include Rome's Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps.

READ ALSO: Italian bar faces backlash over gay Last Supper poster

Italian bar faces backlash over gay Last Supper poster

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Italian researchers discover 14 descendants of Leonardo Da Vinci living in Tuscany

Historians are searching for relatives of the Italian Renaissance artist as a study of his genealogy aims to ‘better understand his genius’.

Italian researchers discover 14 descendants of Leonardo Da Vinci living in Tuscany
Vinci, the Tuscan village where Leonardo Da Vinci was born. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The researchers behind the project, which has spanned several decades, say they have so far found 14 living relatives aged one and 85.

All of them live in the region of Tuscany, where the painter, scientist, engineer and architect was born in 1452.

READ ALSO: Eight things you might not know about Leonardo Da Vinci

The findings form part of a decades-long project, led by art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato.

The study’s findings, published in the Human Evolution journal, document the male line over the past 690 years, through 21 generations.

Though Da Vinci never married and had no children, he had at least 22 half-brothers, according to researchers.

Born in the Tuscan town of Vinci, he was the illegitimate son of a local notary.

READ ALSO: Vinci, the Tuscan paradise where Leonardo’s genius bloomed

Vezzosi told the Ansa news agency that by 2016 “we had already identified 35 of Leonardo’s living relatives, but they were mostly indirect, in the female line, as in the best-known case of the director Franco Zeffirelli.”

“So they were not people who could give us useful information on Leonardo’s DNA and in particular on the Y chromosome, which is transmitted to male descendants and remains almost unchanged for 25 generations”.

He said the 14 living descendants identified in the study, through painstaking research over the decades, were from the male line.

READ ALSO: Da Vinci’s ‘claw hand’ left him unable to hold palette: researchers

“They are aged between one and 85, they don’t live right in Vinci but in neighbouring towns as far away as Versilia (on the Tuscan coast) and they have ordinary jobs such as a clerk, a surveyor, an artisan,” Vezzosi said.

The relatives’ DNA samples will be analysed in the coming months by the international Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project, led by the Jesse Ausubelof Rockefeller University in New York and supported by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.