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Leonardo Da Vinci The Last Supper
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most well-known painting in the world. It depicts Christ and his twelve disciples during their final meal before he was arrested and ultimately crucified. It is believed that the painting took da Vinci over three years to complete, although he did not work on it continuously. No one is sure of the exact date of completion due to unreliable records, so a range of 1495 - 1498 is listed as its date.
The Last Supper is an enormous painting located on a wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie, a monastery in Milan, Italy. While it's referred to as a fresco-style painting, it's not actually a true fresco because it was painted on a dry wall instead of into wet plaster. Unfortunately, due to the material used, the work began to deteriorate not long after it was painted. Over the years a number of restoration and preservation attempts have been made.
The Last Supper depicts Christ's final meal and shows him telling his twelve disciples he'll be betrayed and have to leave them soon. In groups of three, the apostles react to the news. In one group, a figure that is likely Judas is holding what seems to be a bag (possibly filled with silver.) Behind him seems to be an angered Peter, Jesus' number one disciple. Another younger apostle nearby appears to swoon. (Some suggest this figure may be Mary Magdalene.) To the right, the next group of disciples seem to be questioning Christ's revelation. A group on the far right discusses the news in an animated way.
The Last Supper was commissioned by Sforza and depicted Christ's final meal as a religious ceremony. Jesus is the focal point of the piece. There is a subtle symmetry to the work as he is flanked on both sides by his twelve disciples. Judas Iscariot is to the right of Christ. Some have speculated that Mary Magdalene was at the left of Christ, but others dispute this.
The figure of Christ is framed by the doorway, providing contrast and leading the eye to him. His head, arms and body form a triangle, conveying stability. The disciples are also arranged in triangular forms in groups of three along the the table. Lines of perspective seem to radiate from Christ's head, further enhancing him as the focal point. The painting engages the viewer, and its formula has been copied in many symbolic oil paintings that followed.
Just sixty years after completion, The Last Supper began to deteriorate. The figures began to appear unrecognizable. The first restoration attempt took place in the early 1700s. Fifty years later, this work was stripped and a new attempt made. However, this attempt was halted due to public outrage, as the restorer repainted nine of the disciples' faces.
Other minor attempts were made to restore the painting over the years, but it wasn't until 1978 that a major restoration took place. Modern science and methods were utilized. It took around 20 years and received mixed reactions due to the bright colors used.
About The Artist
Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 near Vinci in Italy. As one of the original Renaissance men, he was under appreciated during his time in Florence, the birth place of the Renaissance. He chose to live under the more appreciative gaze of French King Francois I. For Leonardo da Vinci The Last Supper was a personal triumph, but one of many.
From a historical standpoint, da Vinci is considered by many to be one of the greatest men to have ever lived. In addition to being a talented artist, he was also a scientist, author, architect, inventor, engineer and humanist. He was a true Renaissance man and was centuries ahead of his time. He died in Amboise near Tours France in 1519.
For further information, visit:
- The Last Supper painting
- About Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper
- Ross King on The Last Supper
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