THE BENEDECTINE MONKS REVEAL GHIRLANDAIO’S SECRETS An exclusive view of the Last Supper fresco (currently being restored) for the scientists of the TIAFT

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The members of the TIAFT had an exclusive opportunity to see the Last Supper,  Domenico Ghirlandaio’s fresco, that will be exhibited after restoration. This event was part of the social program that represents a moment of great aggregation for the scientists present at the 53° World Congress of the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists, in Florence. For the  Excursion Day they planned to visit the Benedictine Order in Badia, Passignano, where this happened.

In this work, Ghirlandaio abandoned the traditional perspective box of the closed room (employed, for instance, by Andrea del Castagnano in Saint Apollonia), to set a sham opening in the wall of a lodge which favours the architectural shapes of the room itself. To this illusionistic effect contributes massively also the study of the light which coincides with that of the room. The two windows drawn in the background match the two real windows of the room, with the main source of light coming from the left. For the monks, the effect was the Lord’s and the other Apostles’ perfectly integrated presence among them, as a group that was having dinner in front of them, sitting slightly higher than the monks themselves. In general, colours are bright and combined in a delicate way.

As in the Last Supper in Badia, Passignano, Ghirlandaio built perspective, so as to allow the observer to see the cutlery and the food, allowing for an accurate study of real objects that struck him so much in the paintings by Flemish masters present in France. The same attention to detail and to the reflections of the light on the surface of different materials can be found also in the embroidered (in Assisi stitch) dragons on the tablecloth and on its raw edge, as well as in the incisions on the chair and on the jars made of dark metal in the left corner, on the golden and chiseled plate on the right, and in the bouquet of flowers in a jug placed above. Certainly, the scene did not differ much from a Florentine laden table of the times.

As part of the same social program, the Antinori Cantines have opened their doors to those scientists who were  able to appreciate the flavours of the Tuscan mother earth, as a last friendly moment of a high-level international congress, during which was discussed the issue of drug addiction.

I am extremely satisfied with the large number of highly qualified scientists who partook in the event – has declared Elisabetta Bertol, Professor of Forensic toxicology who organised and led the above mentioned Congress – as well as with the great value of their scientific contributions, that have embraced all of the branches of Forensic toxicology. During the Congress, participants from every corner of the world were offered the possibility to appreciate the beauties of the city of Florence. A personal thank you to Marquise Piero Antinori and to the Benedictine monks for the sensitivity they have shown towards science.” – has concluded Bertol. Among the members of the prestigious Executive Board of the TIAFT (the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists, that currently counts 5000 members) there was the president Hee -Sun Chung, for whom the Congress held in Florence was one of the best he has ever attended.

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