The Last Supper - by Leonardo Da Vinci
Last Supper is Leonardo's visual interpretation of an event chronicled in all four of the Gospels (books in the Christian New Testament). The evening before Christ was betrayed by one of his disciples, he gathered them together to eat, tell them he knew what was coming and wash their feet (a gesture symbolizing that all were equal under the eyes of the Lord). As they ate and drank together, Christ gave the disciples explicit instructions on how to eat and drink in the future, in remembrance of him. It was the first celebration of the Eucharist, a ritual still performed.
Specifically, Last Supper depicts the next few seconds in this story after Christ dropped the bombshell that one disciple would betray him before sunrise, and all twelve have reacted to the news with different degrees of horror, anger and shock.
The painting was made using experimental pigments directly on the dry plaster wall and unlike frescos, where the pigments are mixed with the wet plaster, it has not stood the test of time well. Even before it was finished there were problems with the paint flaking from the wall and Leonardo had to repair it. Over the years it has crumbled, been vandalized bombed and restored. Today we are probably looking at very little of the original.
Much of the recent interest in the painting has centred on the details hidden within the painting, but in directing attention to these 'hidden' details, most people miss the incredible sense of perspective the work displays. The sharp angling of the walls within the picture, which lead back to the seemingly distant back wall of the room and the windows that show the hills and sky beyond. The type of day shown through these windows adds to the feeling of serenity that rests in the centre of the piece, around the figure of Christ.
Details of The Last Supper Painting
Detail 2 - Mysterious Da Vinci Code (click image to view detail)
In the fictional book 'The Da Vinci Code', Daniel Brown has his character Teabing suggest that the figure seated to Jesus' right is not the disciple John but is instead Mary Magdalene. The theory, suggested several times in the past, is that Jesus married Mary and after the crucifixion she had a child by him.