Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper

Posted by Kero at Tuesday, October 05, 2010
A visit to the city of Milan will not be complete without seeing Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. Vinciano Cenaculo as Italians call it, is located at the back monastery of a simple church called Santa Marie Delle Grazie.

Two hundred years later, visitors are still fascinated and the fascination increased when the painting became a key element in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci code. It is advisable to book at least two months ahead before your visit.



Santa Marie Delle Grazie (Holay Mary of Grace) is a church and Dominican convent included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list.

During World War II, the night of 15 August 1943, bombs dropped by British and American planes hit the church and the convent. Much of the refectory was destroyed, but some walls survived, including the one that holds the Last Supper, which had been sand-bagged for protection.

The waiting area where you can read a comprehensive history of the masterpiece.

Due to a huge number of tourists, you will only be allowed to enter the monastery 15 minutes prior to your scheduled viewing. The narrow waiting area can only accommodate 25 people.

Once you get your tickets validated, visitors are ushered through a gate and monastery  courtyard greets you. A ticket per person costs 25.00 Euro including a souvenir post card.

No photography is allowed inside but this is similar to what you will see. Da Vinci's masterpiece measures 450 × 870 centimeters (15 feet × 29 ft) and covers the back wall of the dining hall of the monastery.

The Last Supper specifically portrays the reaction given by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would betray him. All twelve apostles have different reactions to the news, with various degrees of anger and shock. From left to right:

Click photo to view large.
* Bartholomew, James, and Andrew form a group of three, all are surprised.

* Judas Iscariot, Peter and John form another group of three. Judas is wearing green and blue and is in shadow, looking rather withdrawn and taken aback by the sudden revelation of his plan. He is clutching a small bag, perhaps signifying the silver given to him as payment to betray Jesus, or perhaps a reference to his role within the 12 disciples as treasurer. He is the only person to have his elbow on the table. Peter looks angry and is holding a knife pointed away from Christ, perhaps foreshadowing his violent reaction in Gethsemane during Jesus' arrest. The youngest apostle, John, appears to swoon.

* Jesus

* Apostle 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 requesting some explanation.

* Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot are the final group of three. Both Jude Thaddeus and Matthew are turned toward Simon, perhaps to find out if he has any answer to their initial questions.

With so much controversy surrounding The Last Supper, among the earliest I heard, even before reading Dan Brown's book is that Leonardo Da Vinci used the same model for both Jesus and Judas. The story often goes that the innocent-looking young man, a baker, posed at nineteen for Jesus. Some years later Leonardo discovered a hard-bitten criminal as the model for Judas, not realizing he was the same man.

Further reading insists that there is no evidence that Leonardo used the same model for both figures and the story usually overestimates the time it took Leonardo to finish the mural.

An entry for

5 sweets for Kero:

NanU on October 6, 2010 at 1:37 PM said...

Thanks for the little tour. I'll have to get to Milan some day! I do think people have been admiring the painting for more than just 200 years, though.

Roger Owen Green on October 6, 2010 at 2:25 PM said...

great background on a pivotal painting of our culture.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Wanda on October 7, 2010 at 12:24 AM said...

Wonderful tour and explanation of the masterpiece. I am a follower of Jesus.

Joanne MV on October 10, 2010 at 12:47 AM said...

Wow! That's fascinating...the painting has a lot of controversies surrounding it :)

march on... on October 11, 2010 at 8:36 AM said...

im going places just by visiting your blog :)thanks for sharing

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