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Leonardo was “skilled at painting the difference between the sexes,” and the “delicate folded hands, and the hint of a bosom. It was, without a doubt…female.”

The reference to delicate folded hands as a proof that the figure traditionally identified as John was really Mary Magdalene is forced. In the Study for the Hands of John in the Windsor Castle Royal Collection (no. 12543), they do not appear distinctly feminine. They may be the hands of a woman, but then again they could as easily be those of a man. In The Last Supper itself, John’s hands are no less masculine than most of the other hands in the picture.

As for the hint of a bosom, this is entirely unjustified. Even if an overly fertile imagination might find such a “hint” on the character of John where his clothes are loose, on the other side, given the absence of the loose cloak, we should be able to detect even clearer evidence of a bosom, we see instead that John’s chest is conspicuously bosomless. Here again Brown’s assertion may derive from his reliance on the conspiracy book The Templar Revelation, where we read of “the tiny, graceful hand, the pretty, elfin features, the distinctly female bosom and the gold necklace” (p. 20).

Interestingly a more recent, post-1999-Last-Supper-restoration book by The Templar Revelations author Lynn Picknett now replaces the old distinctly female bosom claim, with the equally groundless assertion that there is “a dark smudge where ‘his’ breasts should be.” Picknett apparently wants us now to believe that the female bosom was originally there, but that it was subsequently rubbed out.

In a posting from ABC News (Nov 3, 2003) we read.

“Many art historians have dismissed the theory that the figure is a woman, saying it’s just a tradition to paint John as beardless and long-haired. ‘It looks like a young male. I see no breasts,’ art historian Jack Wasserman told ABCNEWS.” Wasserman is a well-known Leonardo scholar.

Finally, John’s face is admittedly effeminate, but not more so than...

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