You are quite correct, the work was in disrepair in 1652, but I believe it was still considered , as I said one of the most important artworks in history. Which is why only a few years later a serious attempt at restoration was started. I find it hard to believe that anyone would have cut a doorway into it.
In 1652, due to recent flooding, the floor was raised by one meter. The doorway had to be raised.
I had always thought that the "Tongerlo" copy was by an unknown artist, if you have a link to something more please let me know.
You're right, the artist's identity is not known, it's attributed only to "School of Leonardo da Vinci".
No matter who the copy was by, the artists motives were unknown, for instance who was it that paid him (her). I know it wasn't a her, but I am trying to be openminded.
No great mystery here, the Abbey of Tongerlo ordered a copy from Leonardo's studio, and that's where it sits today. The "motives" were to get paid.
All of your points are very valid Tim, and I certainly understand them, I am only saying (right now), that if I was on a jury I would not convict.
Then I'm afraid you're really not understanding.
btw, Lov is correct, "Peter" would seem to have been the choice for the position on Jesus' right. Why would da Vinci have drawn it one way and then have changed it?
Who says he did? What about other artists prior to Leonardo who also painted John on Jesus' right? Conspiracy? Or consistency?
How about some of the other artists, such as "Caravaggio" and his pregnant Magdalene?
Differing standards of female beauty in those days, Bill. Nobody painted Magdalene pregnant, just voluptuous.
Take Leonardo, for example:
If Leonardo was trying to make some shocking point about Magdalene (other than immodesty, which was pretty much the consensus when it came to Magdalene in those days), here was his golden opportunity. Or do you want to go the Starbird route and say the transparent veil drawn over her belly is supposed to draw attention to her uterus?