20 years ago I was in Milan for the first time and wanted to see the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci „The Last Supper“. I’m a great admirer of Leonardo. Then and in the following years it was not possible to see the painting, because it was in poor condition and dampness threatened to cause it further damage. I had to be satisfied with reproductions, but the desire to see the original has stayed with me.
Today one can go to visit the restored painting, but because hundreds of others want to do the same, there are waiting lists. I had succeeded in getting hold of one of the sought after entrance tickets. It was not only an admission, but a guided tour and that was something else. Our guide was a passionate Italian, who satisfied every cliché. It soon became clear that the centre of her life was Leonardo da Vinci and that she knew every conceivable detail about him. At the beginning it was super exciting and interesting, but after two hours I could have wished just for 10 minutes peace in order also to digest it intellectually.
But thank God, at last the time has come, when we can enter the high-tech protected room with the fresco. I have seen the painting countless times before, in the last 2 hours I have received art historical details about the picture by the ton. But it is still a special historical experience, to be so close at least for 15 minutes.
In the room, in which on one wall „The Last Supper“ is immortalised, on the wall facing it there is another fresco. Only, nobody looks at this picture. It’s as if it didn’t exist, unimportant, the ugly duckling next to mother swan.
It reminded me of a friend of my youth, David. David could do everything. He was good at maths, languages came easily to him, he was successful at sport and a gifted musician. His 5 years younger brother Adam could do nothing of this. If Adam was noticed, it was negatively. Adam was tolerated, David longed for. Then David died in an accident. A lorry had overlooked him and caught him. Out of the brothers, an only child, Adam. And it wasn’t long before Adam, who was now able to come out of the shadow of his very successful brother, changed. He became ever better, attaining a brilliance, which only very few would have suspected in him.
I look at Leonardo’s painting and think about the artist, who had painted the picture on the other wall. What would have happened, if during the bombardment of Milan during the Second World War the wall with Leonardo‘s fresco had collapsed? Would he then have had the opportunity to become a star?
But at this moment the voice of the watchdog cries out that we must leave the room and make way for the next group. In front of the church little children are playing, the sun is shining and our guide, who for the last 10 minutes has been silent, has again begun to supply us with more art historical details. Sometimes expectation is sweeter than fulfilment.