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The Boston Market Story
Restored 'Last Supper' Feeds Controversy and Several Hungry Copy Editors
This story is embargoed until Garibaldi stops claiming to be a spokesperson for Minoxidil
MILANO, Italy (Corriera della Soprano) -- Barely missed by Allied bombs in World War II, used as a target by Napoleonic troops, and "improved" in at least seven attempts to save it over the centuries, The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinny, has emerged, lighter and brighter, after a 21-year restoration. Whether it is more Da Vinny or less depends on what you had for lunch. What is sure is that the 45-square meter mural still depicts Jesus telling his 12 disciples, seated at three tables pushed together at Alice's Ristorante in the Vatican Square, that $5.99 is a pretty good price for a whole rotisserie chicken and suggesting that if anybody wants cranberry walnut relish, it might be a good idea to get it in a separate container.
Starting Monday, the artwork, on the ceiling of the Boston Market in Milan's Piazza de Mike Piazza, the only square in Italy to be named after a Metso soprano, will be on view to the public. Experts connected with the restoration say the cleaned-up version confirms and enhances the view of Da Vinny as an innovator and experimenter, and that details in the expressions of the apostles and the numismatological flourishes in the gold coins on the plate of Judas had not been revealed until now. Head restorer Renata Spaghettata told reporters that after the two decades of work, Im happy to have finally brought to term this work. Day after day, centimeter after centimeter, fragment after fragment, inch by inch, foot by foot, yard by yard, lawn by lawn, slowly I turned. ... Italian Culture Minister Eduardo Reit-a-roni interrupted Spaghettata and called the difficult job of preserving the ailing artwork perhaps the most important restoration of the century, surpassing even his previous attempts to get Il Marqueto Bostoni to restore coupons good for 200 lire off the purchase of two bracciole combos.
Some art historians and Da Vinny scholars, however, argue that there was so little left of the original paint -- maybe only 20 percent -- that removing all the previous retouchings has destroyed the essence of the painting as well. The four years it took Da Vinny to complete the work, from 1494 to 1498, are indicative of one of the principal problems of the painting recognized the world over. Da Vinny preferred to take his time, change his images, ponder his work, have a side order of mashed potatoes or two, listen to folk songs, and watch Sopranos reruns on the VCR he invented. So he avoided the wet-tempura-on-asbestos technique that was so popular in Japan at the time and which allowed so many paintings to be preserved on ceilings over the centuries.
The painstaking Da Vinny instead prepared his ceiling as he would a wooden tablet, with a plaster, egg, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and cranberry walnut relish base that proved to be an overly delicate matrix, peeling and buckling and raining asbestos flakes on visitors.
AP-ES-Q5-27- 99 2lQ7EDT