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19 countries band together to 'save' Nelli

AWA's TheFirstLast crowdfunding campaign was launched by the Advancing Women Artists on March 1, 2017 and Phase 1 of the campaign ended three months later, at midnight on Easter Sunday. 409 donors from 19 countries participated in the campaign. Their awareness became a concrete gesture of love. Thanks to the 66,810 dollars raised, AWA and its now numerous ‘restoration team’ can work together to safeguard this fundamental example of female artistic talent and recapture the recognition that Nelli enjoyed during her lifetime, as discussed by Italy’s first art historian Giorgio Vasari in his Lives. This Last Supper will be a gift to Florence, Nelli’s beloved home city and once conservation is completed, it will be permanently displayed in the soon-to-be revamped Museum of Santa Maria Novella, an iconic location in the heart of Florence that represents all the beauty and culture of one of the world’s best-loved art capitals.

Here’s a video that tells the story of the 45-day campaign in Florence:

'The First Last' Donors' Book… so far…

Our restoration team is constantly growing. The on-line version of 'The First Last' Donors book is periodically updated with the names of new project sponsors. Have a look!

The hard-bound version of The First Last Donors' Album will be part of the Santa Maria Novella Dominican Library collection. When? As soon as the restoration of Nelli's Last Supper is completed. Open in Nelli's time, the library had become a 'studium generale' as early as the thirteenth-century and it worked much like a full-scale university, having the power to grant academic degrees to its students. Nelli, a Dominican nun who gained commissions within her order, would likely have been proud for this Album to be part of this prestigious library collection.

All of us at AWA would like to join in, thanking all 'The First Last' Donors!

Nelli's Last Supper – A Marvel

‘Art historian’ Giorgio Vasari meets Nelli and mentions her in his ‘Lives’. He poignantly writes, “she would have done marvelous things had she had the opportunity, as men do, to study and devote herself to drawing and portraying living and natural things. It is also clear that in her paintings, the faces and features of women are much better and have much greater verisimilitude than her heads of men, because she was free to study women at her leisure. Some of the women’s faces in her works are portraits…Despite the fact that the artist, being a woman, lacked practice in painting from life, these are painted so well that no one could ask for more.” Vasari recounts knowing her, visiting in her convent and seeing many of her works on the walls her convent. He relates how she was self-taught in painting, beginning with smaller, imitative works and then with time and effort moving to larger, more ambitious pieces like her Last Supper.

Watch this! Learn more about  'The First Last' 

Honorable mentions

Heartfelt thanks to all those who have made an effort to concretely remember the forgotten women artists in history and who supported the campaign which enormously benefitted from the efforts of our dedicated partners. On the Florence scene a special mention goes to Dario Nardella Mayor of Florence, Florentine actress Elena Sofia Ricci and the city’s Councilor for Welfare of Equal Opportunity Sara Funaro, in addition to the Municipality of Florence and its Civic Museum Services, in charge of curating the conservation efforts. We share this ‘victory’ with Flod, the communications agency that curated the entire campaign and our ‘prize partners’: the Medici Dynasty Show, Casa dell’Orafo Nerdi, the artisanal perfumery AquaFlor, Palazzo Spinelli, the Savoy Hotel of Rocco Forte Hotels and The Florentine, Florence and Tuscany’s English-language newspaper.

On the US front we recognize, AWA Board member Cay Fortune, who in the last 45 days was inspired to create the ‘Adopt an Apostle’ program, which included her own 10,000-dollar gift for ‘adopting’ Saint John. Funds raised via this continuing program will support documentation of the restoration including multi-media materials, a full-color publication and a for-television documentary. Mark Gordon Smith, President of Private Italy Tours LTD kicked our campaign over the goal with a sizeable donation made in memory of his mother, artist Helen D. Smith. Following a diagnosis of cancer when the family was living in Tirrenia in the 1950s, she was never able to return to her beloved Italia. "Our donation,” Mark explains, "is made with the hope that all women will be inspired by the story of a dedicated artist whose genius is just now coming to light, whose love of craft created such a legacy."