The Last Supper

The Last Supper after restoration

The Last Supper after restoration

Leonardo da Vinci's “The Last Supper” is one of the world’s most iconic and influential works of art. Its importance derives not only from the innovations it introduced, but also from the impact it has had on art since, from Leonardo’s contemporaries to Warhol. Unlike other depictions of the last supper, Leonardo chose to represent the moment of greatest dramatic intensity, that in which Christ announces the betrayal by one of the apostles. The scene is one of commotion, at the centre of which sits the static and calm figure of Christ, reminiscent of his depiction in “The Last Judgment”. The apostles are gathered in groups of three on his left and right, their emotional reactions illustrated by their gestures, expressions and poses. It's interesting to note that the closer the figures are to the centre of the scene the more marked their reactions are. This is the result of Leonardo's understanding of the Laws of Acoustics, which he was studying at this time and which pervade the entire composition; in his words, “those who are closer better understand, the furthest do not hear at all.” The scene is lit by a cold clear light that brings forth in analytic detail every object, so that the plates, the food, the transparency of the glasses and the folds and decorations in the tablecloth form an extraordinary still life frieze.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

S.Maria delle Grazie

S.Maria delle Grazie

Adjacent to the refectory, which houses “The Last Supper” is one of Milan's most splendid churches and one of the high points of the Renaissance in the city, Santa Maria delle Grazie. Inside the church, a first impression is given by the central aisle, a dim, narrow and collected space, which opens up onto the bright spacious apsidal area designed by Donato Bramante and commissioned by Ludovico il Moro. Although it is an abrupt break from the Gothic naves that lead up to it, it is in harmony with the church complex. This dome built on a broad square base, a circle within a square, is an extraordinary piece of architecture whose modernity still today does not fail to impress the visitor.

Did you know that?

Leonardo also used gold and silver leaf in the painting of “The Last Supper”, traces of which have been discovered, showing the artist's desire to depict the scene realistically, accentuating the light in key areas.