The Last Supper, after Leonardo da Vinci
65.6 cm x 103.3 cm (25 13/16 in. x 40 11/16 in.)
(Naples, 1758 - 1833, Florence)
Medium and Support:
Etching and engraving
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Professor at Florence’s Accademia di Belle Arti and a member of the Institut de France, Raphael Morghen was the most celebrated reproductive engraver of his era. He made some 254 prints, exclusively after the Old Masters. With the exactness of his drawing and the variety of his hatching, he achieved tonal gradations so subtle as to verge on the photographic. His skill earned him the praise of connoisseurs and colleagues throughout Europe.
This reproduction of The Last Supper was his most celebrated and influential achievement. As distinguished art historian Leo Steinberg describes in his recent, searching study of the fresco, no good home in the nineteenth century lacked an impression. Morghen’s engraving, which was the basis for many more reproductions made well into the nineteenth century, helped shape the understanding and determine the popularity of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece through successive generations.
Since the rise of photography and the triumph of modernism, the aesthetic interest of this and all such engravings has usually been dismissed. But Steinberg insists, “Morghen’s print in its proper context is a masterpiece.”