Duterte uses Da Vinci story to urge new appointees to shun corruption
President Rodrigo Duterte tried to impress on newly appointed government officials the importance of being exemplars of the fight against corruption, and freely revised a dubious story about painter Leonardo da Vinci to stress the point.
“I am pleading with you. Even the slightest suggestion or whisper about money, reject it. Right at the start, cut it off,” Duterte told a group of new presidential appointees whom he inducted to office on Wednesday at Heroes Hall in Malacañang Palace.
Duterte recounted a story about how Leonardo da Vinci inadvertently used the same model to depict Jesus Christ and his traitorous disciple Judas Iscariot in “The Last Supper,” one of his greatest masterpieces.
According to the story, Da Vinci spent seven years in Milan, Italy to paint the “The Last Supper” and he began with the depiction of Jesus Christ in the middle of the Renaissance painting.
The president said Da Vinci carefully chose and paid models for each of the apostles in the painting.
“It’s just like choosing General [Hermogenes] Esperon as his model for Saint Peter,” Duterte ribbed his national security adviser.
Six years later, he looked for someone to be the model for Judas Iscariot.
“He looked everywhere,” Duterte said. “He was looking for someone who really looked evil. Just like [Sen. Antonio] Trillanes. He looked for some who looked like Trillanes.”
After Da Vinci finished the painting, his model confessed that he was the same model Leonardo chose to depict Jesus six years earlier, Duterte related.
It turned out that, as the story goes, that the model for Jesus Christ turned to evil ways after Da Vinci painted him as Jesus Christ and turned into a “face of evil” six years later.
Drawing a parallelism from the story, Duterte urged his appointees to stay away from evil.
“I hope I will not have to ask you to pose for a picture which I will be drawing shortly before I leave the presidency,” he said.
“I hate to see you being a Jesus Christ, only to discover in the end that you are the Judas that I have also been looking for,” Duterte said.
But, apparently, the story that the president used to illustrate his point might also have been one of the fake stories spread about Da Vinci.
The painting took only two to three years to make and not seven, said Da Vinci biograper Robert Wallace in his book “The World Of Leonardo 1452-1519.”
Leonardo did use live models and did look among local prisoners for someone to portray Judas. But he did not choose the same person as used for Christ.
There is also no record of Leonardo using the same model for both Christ and Judas, Wallace said. /atm
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