When Milan's Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie reopens next month it will bring to an end 500 years of obscurity for a man who many art historians believe is the greatest unsung master of all time. Two years of painstaking restoration work, stripping away centuries of dirt, pollution and paint, will finally reveal the work of the legendary Renaissance craftsman Gabriello Blanco - the man who did the undercoat for The Last Supper.
"It's been a difficult and delicate business," says project director Professor Michelle Phart. "But we're really excited about finally revealing this wonderful work to the public. At long last Blanco is going to get the recognition he deserves. Obviously I wouldn't want to cast any doubt on da Vinci's genius. His twiddly bits were excellent and he hardly ever went over the lines, but he'd have been nowhere without a smooth, blemish-free surface on which to work."
Not everyone is so excited, particularly celebrated critic Brian Towel, who is characteristically dismissive about the artist. "He was competent enough, but his broad strokes often seem clumsy, and lack the imagination that characterises true genius. Now, if the restoration team had gone further and delved beneath Blanco's third rate attempts, they would have uncovered the handiwork of a genuinely talented virtuoso. I speak, of course, of Fabricci Boshaccello - a craftsman of genuine refinement, extraordinary vision and someone who, in his day, was regarded as one of the most accomplished plasterers in Europe."