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A Phenomenal Woman: Plautilla Nelli’s Last Supper restored


A Phenomenal Woman: Plautilla Nelli’s Last Supper restored 

While her relevance was remarkably underrated until recently, Plautilla Nelli proves to be a critically important figure of the Renaissance. At a time when women were limited, Nelli did something unconventional: she taught herself to paint. Nelli’s Last Supper, the only known one made by a female artist, has been restored for permanent exhibition at Santa Maria Novella.  

A nun from the age of 14 Nelli trained herself by copying others. She became known among the prominent male painters in Florence. Eventually she created a studio at the convent for other nun artists and her paintings secured her place as the first-known female Renaissance painter. Her patrons enabled the convent to be self-sufficient and her art could be found in many homes of Florentine nobility. Unfortunately, Nelli’s Last Supper was damaged during the famous floods of 1966, along with a large number of other works. 

As one of the largest works created by early known female artist, Nelli’s Last Supper is a remarkable testimony for both her skill and boldness. An all-woman team of curators, restoration artists and scientists lead the project. As the piece was further studied, the skill and expertise of Nelli was substantiated, solidifying her relevance in Renaissance history. 

The restoration was made possible by Advancing Women Artists Foundation with donations from around the world. The restored painting is now on display for the public at Monastery of Santa Maria Novella Museum. Make this a stop in your trip to Florence by contacting a Cultural Italy Travel Designer Today. 

Jennie Olson Six, Cultural Italy Content Writer

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