Thursday, April 5, 2012

Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sara Hussain

This is the Passion Week (Holy Week) for the Christians. It is the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. (See Memories: Passion Week, half a century back)

The Last Supper, which was immortalized by Da Vinci, took place on Maundy Thursday. It was during this meal that Christ announced that one of his twelve disciples would betray him. Christ was crucified on Good Friday. For Christians it is a time of prayers, meditation and fasting.

I was not planning any blog post for today. What made me do this one is a five column report in the Malayala Manorama newspaper this morning about the new Last Supper painting in the St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Cochin. While this oil on canvass painting is modeled on the Da Vinci creation, the faces and the background are different. Also, Jesus is shown blessing the Host while in the original the hands are kept on the table.

The Last Supper which Da Vinci did in Milan, Italy towards the end of the 15c was 15ft x 29ft. The new one at Cochin is 8ftx20ft. It is believed to be the largest canvas painting in Kerala. The canvas and the paints were imported. Da Vinci took about four years to complete his masterpiece. The Cochin one was done in six months.

There are differences also between the original painting and the one kept in the Royal Academy of Arts, London which was painted in 1520 by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli. Interestingly, it was this copy (?) which served as the guide for the 21 years (1978-1999) restoration of the original Last Supper. The two paintings and the sketches by Da Vinci are reproduced below from Wikimedia Commons. Click on them to enlarge.

The painter in Cochin is Sara Hussain. (I am not sure whether she spells her name ‘Sara’ or ‘Zarah’ or ‘Zara’.) Can’t be any relation of MF Hussain. She is from Arookutty (Islands in the Sun) near Cochin. This girl has a 1st Class Diploma in painting and is currently doing BSc Multimedia in the Annamalai University. What is remarkable is that Sara Hussain has done paintings for twelve churches in India.

I plan to go and see the painting soon after the Easter rush is over.

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