Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, is an example of Italian Renaissance art. The wall painting was completed in 1498 and is still on display at Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. While there are many amazing things to do in Milan it is worth a visit to see da Vinci’s Last Supper. It is a huge picture measuring 15 feet by 29ft. It depicts the moment Jesus tells his 12 apostles that one will betray him. The expressions on each apostle’s faces are all captured in the enormous image. Da Vinci’s Last Supper is so well-known that you have probably seen it more than once. But how much do you actually know about this masterwork? These 8 facts will surprise you
The Last Dinner is not a Fresco
Da Vinci required time to complete the Last Supper. This is not possible with fresco painting. Tempera must be applied quickly to frescos before they dry, which makes it difficult for artists to make adjustments and force them to work quickly. Da Vinci instead added tempera to the plaster that was already dry. This allowed him to work slowly and develop the shading associated with the chiaroscuro. He also made any necessary changes over time. The wall was then coated with a material that absorbs oil paint and protects against moisture. It allowed him to paint however he wanted, but the paint started to come off the base coat in 1517, just two decades after he began. Da Vinci’s Last Supper has seen more changes in temperature, humidity, and moisture than other frescoes.
Leonardo was creative to capture the painting’s perspective
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is remarkable for the unique perspective that the great artist used. The painting is perhaps the most perfect example of a single-point perspective anywhere in the world. Every element in the painting directs the attention to Christ’s head right in the middle. Da Vinci achieved this by driving a nail through the wall of Jesus’ temple. This is the focal point of the painting. He used string to see the room from a different perspective, and then he painted the rest of the pieces in a manner that brought the eye back toward Christ.
This arrangement had the downside that it required da Vinci to draw some disciples from behind, which was somewhat unfavorable. Leonardo wanted to give each Apostle an expressive portrayal. However, a circular table wouldn’t allow for the best use of the dramatic elements of the scene.
The Last Sacrament is more than art. It’s also math
Leonardo, an engineer, and inventor were well-known for his use of math in his work. This includes his paintings. Luca Pacioli (Da Vinci’s peer) once wrote in De Divina Proportione (“On the Divine Proportione”), “Without mathematics, there is no art.” Actually, da Vinci provided the illustrations for the book. Da Vinci’s drawings demonstrate that most bodily proportions are based on the Golden Ratio. This mathematical method can be used to determine artistic proportions.
Many believe that the Last Supper contains mathematical symbolism, in addition to the Golden Ratio. The number 3 is likely to be an allusion to the Holy Trinity. There are three windows, and three groups of disciples and Jesus is shown in a triangle with his outstretched arms.
He probably used familiar faces – perhaps even his.
According to most accounts, da Vinci used the faces of real people in his Last Supper to replace the apostles’ faces. He is said to have spent time in jail looking for the right expression for Judas (the fourth figure on the left, and the apostle who betrayed Jesus).
It is possible that he may have painted the mural himself! Although it has never been proven, art historians believe that da Vinci painted his likeness to St. James the Less. Or, the apostle may have looked very similar to the painter.
There are two other copies
Artists and Catholics alike loved the Last Supper and it has been painted numerous times by other artists. Two early exact copies of da Vinci’s Last Supper exist. The copies were likely created by Leonardo’s assistants and nearly match the original in size and appearance. They are also exceptionally well preserved. One copy is located in London’s Royal Academy of Arts, while the other can be found in Ponte Capriasca’s Church of St. Ambrogio.
Each figure serves an individual purpose and creates an emotional whole
Although Da Vinci’s Last Supper wasn’t the first painting of this famous biblical scene, it was significant because of the apostles’ expressions and intimate feelings. Andrew, James the Less, and Bartholomew are all stunned by Christ’s proclamation. Andrew raises his hand to stop him. The next three are Judas, Peter, and John. John is irritable and Peter seems frightened, but Judas hides his face behind the shadow. Judas was once painted to be separated from the rest of the group. Leonardo instead paints Judas in the group. However, he is obscured by a shadow and so is not visible to Christ’s light. Following Christ are Thomas, James The Greater, and Philip. Each one is agitated or stunned or confused. Simon, Thaddeus, and Matthew are the last three, while the first two look to Simon for explanations.
Christ, on the contrary, is calm in the chaos. Christ, on the other hand, is calm and expansive in the middle of chaos, which provides both perspective and an emotional anchor. Christ is surrounded by objects that have fallen, which symbolizes the chaos that occurs when he’s not there. However, those in front of him appear to be orderly. His arms are spread out to signify the Holy Trinity. He is also pointing at the bread and wine in front of him, which could be a symbol for the moment Jesus will offer his life.
Da Vinci believed that emotional realism was important in his art, and The Last Supper demonstrates this. It is an emotional, electric, and human scene.
The mural of today might look very different from da Vinci’s original.
The new method of mural painting developed by Leonardo da Vinci was not long-lasting. The Last Supper started to deteriorate almost immediately. The Last Supper of da Vinci has been restored many times over the years. This latest restoration took many years and is controversial in the art industry. Some say it’s a great success while others claim it has damaged the integrity of the piece. Pinin Brambilla Barrcilon painted the piece. Many are unhappy with her choice to use watercolors and fill in the gaps with bright watercolor paint.
James Beck, an Art History Professor at Columbia University, New York has stated that the Last Supper is only 20 percent Leonardo’s work and 60 percent the restoration work. Although the outline is still there, it’s impossible to know how closely the current painting compares to da Vinci’s original masterpiece.
We don’t know all the answers.
There are many theories, conspiracies, and myths about da Vinci’s Last Supper. Many of these can be found in Dan Brown’s popular novel, The Da Vinci Code. We don’t know many facts about the famous painting, but there are many more. What made him choose these foods? Why is the bread not leavened Why is Judas’ plate empty? Although it is true that da Vinci used symbols and commentary in his art, there are no written records so we can’t be certain.
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Our blog post provides a detailed guide to how to see da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Tickets are EUR6.50. However, booking online months in advance is the best way to secure one. Additional EUR1.50 is charged for bookings. You can also make the most of your time by skipping the line to see The Last Supper, climbing to the Duomo’s roof and touring the trendy Brera neighbourhood on our Best of Milan tour. The public is welcome from 8:15 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Sunday.
Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie 2, Tel. +390 2 9280 0360.