Copy of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” found in Vologda cathedral

A copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s infamous “Last Supper,” dated to the mid-nineteenth century and painted according to Orthodox canons, has been found in Vologda’s Resurrection Cathedral, 290 miles northeast of Moscow. Certain variances from the original do catch the eye, for instance the different color of Judas robe, reports

The building served for many decades since the Soviet era as a regional art gallery, the mural being hidden behind wooden panels upon which paintings hung, being discovered only once the building was returned to the Vologda Diocese and restorations began. Experts are evaluating it as a true find.

“The artist managed to not simply mechanically repeat Leonardo’s composition, but to introduce his own color treatment. Indeed, this composition has its own attractiveness, color properties, and mastery of composition, which replicates the original. It’s not so easy to replicate—it requires a high level of mastery,” noted the chief researcher of the Pushkin Museum Viktoria Markova.

The practice of copying works, especially of the Renaissance, developed in Russia in the eighteenth century, when Russian artists were traveling to Italy and seeing these masterpieces firsthand. Presumably the mural was painted when the cathedral was restored in the nineteenth century and painted by Yaroslavl artist Alexander Kolchin.

Only one other Da Vinci copy is known in Russian churches—that in the altar apse in St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral, dated to the early nineteenth century.

A comprehensive study of the mural is underway in the Resurrection Cathedral, with all work being coordinated with specialists from the capital, as the cathedral is a monument of federal significance.