The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci: 5 things to know

THE LAST SUPPER BY LEONARDO DA VINCI: 5 THINGS TO KNOW

The Last Supper is a work which, together with The Mona Lisa, has entered the collective consciousness, and in fact when you hear about the Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci’s work comes to your mind immediately.

But what do we actually know about this work?
Here are 5 things you have to know about The Last Supper.

1 – WHERE THE LAST SUPPER IS

The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 1498 to decorate the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) in Milan, where it is still housed.

Leonardo arrived in Milan in 1482 wanting to put himself to the test at the Court of Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, who took advantage of Leonardo’s skills as an architect, a painter, a sculptor and an engineer, and commissioned him many works. Among the works commissioned to the artist there was also The Last Supper.

READ ALSO: The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci: why is it called that?

2 – THE CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE AND THE LAST SUPPER

In 1494 Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, home to the Dominican order, became the place where Ludovico il Moro wanted to celebrate his own family, the Sforza.
The church and the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie were completely restored and Leonardo da Vinci was one of the artists involved.

Leonardo chose the theme of the Last Supper to decorate the refectory of the convent, painting the exact moment in which Jesus announces his disciples that one of them would betray him.

Santa Maria delle Grazie | Milano

Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milano

3 – THE LAST SUPPER AND THE EMOTIONS

The scene painted by Leonardo is full of emotions and feelings opposite to each other.
On each face you can see a different behaviour from astonishment to surprise, from anger to incredulity.

Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be the artist who inserted in the portraits the deepest feelings.
The facial expression, the gestures and the position of the body to him were the visible consequence of all sensations and feelings human beings hide inside themselves.
The Last Supper is an array of these emotions.

4 – THE LAST SUPPER IS NOT A FRESCO

Leonardo could have chosen the fresco painting technique for his masterpiece, but because it required a rapid execution, and he was famous for his extreme perfectionism and his slowness, he chose to experiment a new technique.
Instead of painting a fresco, Leonardo put the colour like he was in front of a canvas.

The execution was perfect, but it was disastrous for its conservation.
Yet after few years, the work began to deteriorate and needed constant restoration, which has continued up to the present day, with continuous restoration works and monitoring of the situation.

READ ALSO: Free museums in Milan.

5 – THE MYSTERIES OF THE LAST SUPPER

For a long time Leonardo’s masterpiece remained almost illegible due to his constant disrepair.
The last restoration lasted almost 20 years, and restored the legibility of almost the totality of the image.

A long and hard work, ended in 1999, which allowed us to discover how time and past restorations had completely distorted Leonardo’s artwork.
For example, Saint Matthew’s blond hair had turned into dark, and also the mouths of other protagonists which were originally open, as a sign of astonishment, had been closed.
All details which, once brought to light, have provided a new vision and especially have restored the true features painted by Leonardo at the end of the 15th century.

READ ALSO: Things to see in Milan.

READ ALSO: Renaissance artist’s workshop.

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3 thoughts on “The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci: 5 things to know

  1. Per Leonardo da Vinci la Gioconda, vista annualmente da milioni di visitatori al Louvre, potrebbe essere un’ultima Madonna che apparirà in tempi apocalittici, (Madonna di Medjugorje?), senza il Bambino con sé, contrariamente alle molte Madonne da lui precedentemente dipinte. Monna Lisa è la Madonna che precede il Giudizio Universale, di Michelangelo e quello finale ad opera del Figlio. Michelangelo Buonarroti, nella somiglianza tra il Cristo Giudice del Giudizio Universale e la figura di Aman della volta nella Cappella Sistina, persecutore biblico degli ebrei, avrebbe indicato la futura somiglianza apparente tra Gesù è l’Anticristo, come aveva scritto nei primi secoli il Padre della Chiesa Sant’Ippolito di Roma. Cfr. ebook/kindle L’Apocalisse secondo Leonardo e Michelangelo.

  2. Un’opera delle più affascinanti mai prodotte. Un tenero ricordo quando studiavo alla Cattolica e frequentavo le lezioni di inglese al collegio san Carlo proprio di fronte a Santa Maria delle Grazie. Ai tempi si poteva entrare senza rendez-vous, tanti anni fa. Per me era un momento di pura riflessione passere 10 minuti di fronte a tale capolavoro umano. Ai tempi studiavo le lingue che mi sarebbero servite nel mio mestiere di traduttore letterario pur non dimenticandomi della mia vena artistica ( frequentai il Liceo artistico diplomandomi tanti anni or sono). Traduttore si ma con l’arte sempre nel cuore.

    • Che bella storia Elisabetta e che bello il tuo legame con il Cenacolo.
      Questo capolavoro non solo è bello e ricco di significati, ma mi stupisce ogni volta come sia in grado di entrare a far parte delle vite di chi lo ammira, anche dei semplici turisti.
      Credo siano veramente poche le opere al mondo capaci di creare un legame con chi osserva. 🙂

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