Last Supper by 7UDEc2g


Last Supper
            “Il Cenacolo” [Italian]
Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
               460 cm × 880 cm
        15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519
Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan
   Sta Maria delle
    Grazie, Milan

   Refectory (dining
   Note the patron’s Coats of Arms (Sforza family) in the 3
    lunettes above
The Patron & the
    Patron – Duke of
   Ludovico Sforza,‘Il Moro’, Duke of
   Same patron of…Cecilia Gallerani
   known as "the Moor" because of his
    dark complexion and black hair
   He made Milan supreme among the
    Italian states, and his patronage of
    scholars and artists such as
    Leonardo da Vinci made his court
    renowned in Europe. He bribed
    Maximilian I to declare him duke of
    Milan and fought to expel the French
    from Italy.
The Nagging Prior v. the
Understanding Duke
  When Leonardo da Vinci was painting The Last
   Supper back around 1494, the prior at the
   convent in Milan where the huge work was being
   created kept bugging the artist to work faster.
 In his classic work written in 1550, Lives Of The
   Artists, Giorgio Vasari, gives an account of the
   prior's frustration:
...he was puzzled by Leonardo's habit of sometimes
   spending half a day at a time contemplating what
   he had done so far...
The Duke’s response…
   Leonardo ignored the nagging and continued to proceed at his own
   The prior then went and complained to the duke who was
    Leonardo's patron for the project.
   The duke sent for the artist and "very tactfully" ask him how things
    were going.
   Leonardo, knowing he was dealing with a prince of acute and
    discerning intelligence, was willing (as he never had been with the
    prior) to explain his mind at length; and so he talked to the duke for
    a long time about the art of painting. He explained that men of
    genius sometimes accomplish most when they work
    the least; for, he added, they are thinking out inventions and
    forming in their minds the perfect ideas which they subsequently
    express and reproduce with their hands.
   The duke found Leonardo simpatico, and accepted his explanation,
    according to Vasari, and the pesky prior had to back off.
  The Biblical
Of the Last Supper from the
 Gospel of Matthew 17-25
    The Last Supper
   One of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went
    to the high priests and said, "What will you give me if I
    hand him over to you?" They settled on thirty silver
    pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to
    hand him over. […]
   On the first of the Days of Unleavened Bread, the
    disciples came to Jesus and said, "Where do you want
    us to prepare your Passover meal?“. [they choose the
    Upper room]
    After sunset, he and the Twelve were sitting around
    the table. During the meal, he said, " My time is near.
    …The authorities want to arrest me. I have
    something hard but important to say to you: One of
    you is going to hand me over to them."
1st moment depicted by Leonardo –
“It isn’t me, is it, Master?”
   22 They were stunned, and then began to ask, one
    after another, "It isn't me, is it, Master?"
    23-24Jesus answered, "The one who hands me over
    is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me
    food at the table. In one sense the Son of Man is
    entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the
    Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense that
    man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—
    better never to have been born than do this!"
    25Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, "It isn't me,
    is it?"
     Jesus said, "Don't play games with me, Judas."
2nd significance of ‘Last Supper’
The Bread and the Cup – initiates sacrament of
the Eucharist
   26-29During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it,
    and gave it to his disciples:
     Take, eat.
     This is my body.
    Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them:
      Drink this, all of you.
      This is my blood,
      God's new covenant poured out for many people
         for the forgiveness of sins.
    "I'll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day
    when I'll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father."
    30They sang a hymn and went directly to Mount Olives.
Copy which supposedly shows the work as it was
Unknown artist of the XVI century. Copy after Leonardo's Last Supper.
Oil on canvas. Da Vinci Museum, Abbey of Tongerlo, Tongerlo, Belgium
Figure groupings – 4 groups of 3
   Bartholomew, James, son of Alphaeus and Andrew form a
    group of three, all are surprised
   Judas Iscariot, Peter and John form another group of three.
    The youngest apostle, John, appears to have fainted.
   Thomas, James the Greater and Philip are the next group of
    three. Thomas is clearly upset; James the Greater looks
    stunned, with his arms in the air. Meanwhile, Philip appears
    to be asking for an explanation.
   Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot are the final
    group of three. Both Jude Thaddeus and Matthew are turned
    toward Simon, as if they are discussing the shocking
    revelation together.
Studies and Preparatory drawings
Experimental Technique – led to
deterioration of paint
               Technical problems with the Last Supper
                began as soon as Leonardo started to paint
              Did not use traditional fresco technique of
                applying paint to wet plaster, as it didn’t
                suit his slow and thorough execution
              instead used an experimental technique
                that involved painting directly on the dry
              Leonardo sealed the stone wall with a layer
                of pitch, gesso and mastic, then painted
                onto the sealing layer with tempera.
              Unfortunately in doing so he rendered one
                of the most enduring painting techniques
                volatile and unstable.
             ( abridged from book by restoration artist Pinin
                Brambilla Barcilon)
So, did Leonardo fail?
   One critic draws on what biographer Vasari
    said about another of Leonardo’s works to
    answer this question:
   The truth, however, is surely that
    Leonardo's profound and discerning mind
    was so ambitious that this was itself an
    impediment; and the reason he failed was
    because he endeavoured to add excellence
    to excellence and perfection to perfection.
What a difference Restoration can
 Repaints   Cleaning trials   Restored
& deposits
Zoom and Explore The Last Supper
Key Figures
   Frontal pose
   Serious, Calm,
    Dignified 
   Embodies
    Alberti’s idea
    of decorum
   Contrast of
    hands – one
    active, the
    other relaxed
   Indicates
    Judas with
    Left hand
Christ is the focal point
                     Christ’s central placement – he
                      is the literal and symbolic focal
                      point reinforced by:
                    Use of linear perspective – lines
                      on architecture lead to him
                    Lighting and poses of figures
                      (lines of arms; V shape)
                    Predella in architecture forms a
                      “halo” shape above his head
                    His calmness, simple gesture
                      contrasts with those around him
                   Links to the presence of the Trinity:
                    3 windows behind
                    His pose – pyramidal
   wearing green and blue robe over red
   Face is profile, in shadow = suggests his
    sin. Shown as an older man.
   He looks as if he has jolted in surprise at
    Christ’s revelation of his plan
   Clutching a small bag (= the 30 silver
    pieces reward to betray Jesus) to his
    chest; other hand reaches for bread at
    same time as Christ
   Not separated on other side of table – as
    was tradition. However he is the only
    person to have his elbow on the table.
   Influence of humanism –not a caricature;
    attempt to understand him as a person
    Notice delicate
     sfumato on face
    Expression shows
     his deep pain at the
     thought of someone
     betraying Christ
    Furrowed brows
     show confusion,
    Gesture asks “one
     of us?”
 Between John / Judas
 Wearing Blue / yellow
 Features of old man
– bushy white beard
 Clutches knife, expression is angry
  (furrowed brows)
 Foreshadows later violent reaction (cutting
  off the ear of a Roman guard in
  Gethsemane when they arrest Jesus)
St John the Evangelist
   Eyes closed, in a swoon
   St John is traditionally
    considered “the one Christ loved
    the most”, depicted as young
   Initial drawings used traditional
    pose of John’s head on Christ’s
    breast / table but this was
   Effeminate features has led Dan
    Brown and others to say this is
    Mary Magdalene (but then where
    is John, the 12th Disciple?)
Key Innovations and significant
aspects of The Last Supper
                   Psychological realism of
                    each figure’s reaction to
                    the news
                   Individualised apostles
                   Innovative composition -
                    does not follow tradition of
                    seating Judas on other
                    side of table; symbolic
                   Use of Experimental new
                   Hidden symbolism (?!)
 And finally…
  Tributes to
the Last Supper
Dali’s version
Some Living American Women Artists/Last Supper, 1971.
'A tribute to women' ... The Last Supper advertisement
for Marithé and François Girbaud.

   However it was deemed too offensive by Milan city authorities, and withdrawn.
 Article by Rebecca Helm-Ropelato

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