top of page

"The Last Supper(?)"

(attributed by some to Leonard DiCapriovinci)

Scholarly debate has raged over the validity of this fresco. One school claims that the age of the pigments, the brush strokes and the overall mood mark it beyond question as a DiCapriovinci. Another school holds that it bears all the earmarks of a forgery by DiCapriovinci's sneaky cousin Clem, who was renowned for faithfully copying Leonard's works down to the last detail, even going so far as to filch paints from the latter's atelier. A third school questions both the other schools, pointing out that the building upon which the fresco was executed was built in 1958. The controversy goes on.

 A separate argument rages over the content of the fresco itself. So far as anyone can determine, the durian fruit was unknown in the Middle East at the time of the events depicted. Furthermore, scholars are united in their puzzlement over why the fruit was made the centerpiece of the fresco in the first place. The spiky, 20-pound Indonesian import has been variously described by its detractors as smelling like garbage, vomit, moldy cheese or rotting fish. It is banned from the better Asian restaurants, and under consideration by the UN as a biological weapon.

 Yet the presence of the prominent durian fruit on the table is the only justification for so many of the disciples in the painting leaning away from it, and for the pale face of the one who has apparently swooned. (The figure with the upraised middle finger is thought to be 17th-century vandalism.)

To the far right of the fresco two disciples are upbraiding Judas for his purchase, as he was known to be a lover of bargains. In his defense, Biblical scholars point out that Judas was from Kerioth and probably spoke a Keriothian dialect of Aramaic rather than the Galilean brand Jesus' followers preferred. So when Jesus ordered up an unblemished lamb, ('dûrian in Galilean Aramaic street slang), Judas may have heard 'dürian (big stinky fruit in Keriothic Aramaic thieves' jargon). At any rate the presence of the fragrant fruit explains the name of that particular Passover meal, and of the fresco itself, as the guests left saying, "That's the last supper I'll ever eat at his place!"


BACK          NEXT

bottom of page