Here's the thing, though. Even back then, Leonardo da Vinci paintings were priceless, and no one would have messed with it if it wasn't already ruined. While people in later centuries certainly deserve some of the blame, The Last Supper sucked because Leonardo da Vinci was lazy and stubborn.
Andersen Ross/Blend Images/Getty Images
Making you very similar to one of the greatest geniuses of all time.
As far as we know, Leonardo was not a prolific painter. As few as 15 works are attributed to him (he never signed his stuff, so it is hard to know for sure) even though he lived to be 67 years old. A lot of his works are unfinished, because by all accounts Leonardo took FOREVER to actually complete something. Even the Mona Lisa isn't done. By the 1490s, people knew that commissioning something from him was no guarantee you would actually get what you asked for, or at least not for five or six years.
This procrastination caused him a problem when he was asked to paint an image of Jesus and his disciples chowing down for the last time. The typical way to create huge wall paintings is the fresco method. This has been in use since ancient times and is very effective. It is why Pompeii could get buried by a friggin' volcano and their murals came away mostly unscathed. The technique involves putting wet plaster on the wall and painting while it is still damp. This binds the paint to the wall, keeping it from peeling and flaking.
Liquid fire: less destructive than hubris.
The problem with this style is that you need to work fast. You have to get paint down while the plaster is wet. Leonardo knew he was never going to finish in time; fuck that, he was going to take years. So instead he decided to make up his own way of fresco painting, one not even he had tried before.
It didn't work.
Almost immediately, paint started flaking off. Within 18 years, the mural was "beginning to spoil" according to one viewer, and in the 1550s another called it a "muddle of blots" and "ruined." The first restoration attempt was in 1726, then again in 1770, 1821, 1901, 1924, and 1951. There were so many layers of new paint that even with the latest restoration, only 42.5 percent of the painting is considered to actually be Leonardo's original work.
So, basically, we only have a handful of paintings by da Vinci, and the second-most famous of them has been ruined, all because he couldn't be bothered to paint just a little bit faster. What is Italian for #EpicFail?
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For more from Kathy, check out The World's Fastest Growing Industry (is a Pyramid Scheme) and 5 Eerily Familiar Things Animals Do When They're Drunk.
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