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Tongerlo Abbey may well have a real Da Vinci

Leonardo De Vinci himself probably participated in painting  the version of "The Last Supper" in Tongerlo Abbey. That's according to an American art history professor who studied the canvas this week, using a special camera of the Leuven technological research centre Imec.  

The news does not come as a coincidence, 500 years after his death. Leonardo Da Vinci was considered as an "Uomo universale" because he was also a scientist and engineer apart from being an artist. However, he did not leave too many works of arts behind; only 18 works worldwide have been attributed to him with great certainty.  

Multi-spectral cameras reveal "sfumato" technique

One of Da Vinci's renowned works is "The Last Supper" in the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. The one in Tongerlo is a copy which was made 6 years after the orginal, mainly by Da Vinci's pupils. However, there were rumours that Da Vinci himself participated in the making of the Tongerlo work. 

This has now been investigated by Jean-Pierre Isbouts, an American art historian. He cooperated with Imec to use so-called "multi spectral cameras" which are able to detect and reconstruct various layers in a painting, and differentiate between the original and the restauration.  

John shows androgynous characteristics, something which is typical for De Vinci's work

Isbouts says that one character draws particular attention, John who is sitting at Jesus' left hand side. It is painted using a special technique, the so-called sfumato. It is the same technique used for Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, and Isbouts argues that only De Vinci really mastered the technique so sell as to create John in this way. He calls the work in Tongerlo Abbey "a second Last Supper" rather than "a copy". 

Another reason why it could be Da Vinci himself at work, is that John shows androgynous characteristics (of both a man and a woman combined, red.). This is a something which intrigued Da Vinci a lot, and which we also see in other works of his. 

Isbouts' findings now have to be confirmed by other experts, and further research into the paint used could shed more light on the matter. 

Watch the video with Jean-Pierre Isbouts here:

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