[Copy of the head of Christ from Leonardo da Vinci's “The Last Supper”]

Léon Gérard French

Not on view

The drawing in this photograph, formerly attributed to the Renaissance master Leonardo, is related to the artist's famous figure of Christ seated at the center of the table in the fresco he painted of the Last Supper in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, from 1495 to 1498. Although the way the image loses itself in the roughly textured surface suggests that it is the sinopia, or sketch, that underlies the fresco, it is in fact a much reworked, abraded, and restored copy on paper (now in the Brera Gallery, Milan) by an unknown artist. The face by Leonardo is so iconic that Gérard’s photograph of this distant version of it works like a memory; insubstantial as smoke, yet distinct, the portrait hovers like the face of Christ on Veronica’s veil. Gérard made the photograph during an excursion through the Loire and Rhine valleys, Switzerland, and northern Italy between 1857 and 1861.

[Copy of the head of Christ from Leonardo da Vinci's “The Last Supper”], Léon Gérard (French, 1817–1896), Albumen silver print from paper negative

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