On display at the Fine Arts Museum[Museum of Fine Arts]
Heads of Christ and five Apostles, attributed to Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, after the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
This group of six heads, drawn after Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, corresponds to almost all of the left hand side of the masterly fresco painted by Leonardo between 1494 and 1498 in the refectory of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Milan in Italy.
The Strasbourg group thus includes James the Minor, Andrew, Judas Iscariot, Peter, John and Christ. Absent is Bartholomew, on the far left in the original painting.
It was Wilhelm Bode who acquired these six heads for the Strasbourg Fine Arts Museum in London in 1893, through the offices of Sir Charles Robinson. They had formerly belonged to the collection of Charles Fairfax Murray.
Retracing the history of these drawings, corresponding to just half of the Last Supper, is still a hazardous undertaking, in spite of the many investigations carried out over the centuries.
The existence of a similar series, formerly in the Saxe-Weimar Museum and now dispersed through different public and private collections, and likewise the drawings in circulation portraying the figures in the Last Supper make it harder to trace the movements of the Strasbourg series.
Following Dehio (1896), many art historians are agreed in attributing this group to Boltraffio, one of Leonardo's closest collaborators.
Fom July 25th to Octobre 1st 2012