Kolkata, Aug 26: Around 30 restored art relics mirroring the history of the iconic St. John’s Church – one of the first public buildings built by the British East India Company in Kolkata – have been unveiled here.
Eighteenth century German-born painter Johann Zoffany’s version of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ occupies the pride of place among the artefacts restored.
“There are 16 oil paintings that were part of the restoration project that took two years. Totalling 30, the items include photographs and lithographs dating back to the origin of the Church during the days of the East India Company,” G.M. Kapur, state convenor of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), told IANS.
The project is the result of a partnership between INTACH, the church and Rotary Club of Calcutta Chowringhee.
According to Kapur, the oil paintings mostly were of the erstwhile bishops and vicars of the Church while, among the photographs, the standout piece is a certified self-photograph of Zoffany.
“There is also a painting of Jesus on a cross… we haven’t been able to determine the artist. The painting was badly damaged and stained and we managed to clean it,” said Kapur.
The unveiling that took place Saturday drew a large number of enthusiasts for whom Zoffany’s ‘The Last Supper’ was the pull-factor.
Zoffany, a neo-classical style artist, came to India in the 1780s. The painting has been housed in the Church since 1787 – the year of its opening.
The 10 feet by 12 feet oil painting represents an Indianised version of the epic Biblical moment of Jesus Christ having his last meal with his disciples in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
A Hindustani spittoon, a talwar (Indian sword) and a goat-skin bag for storing water are some of the pointers to the Indian culture depicted in the painting.