Take a look at the above picture, The Last Supper. What do you see? What have you spotted? Anything interesting or unusual?
The Last Supper is one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most well-known works; and along with the Mona Lisa, could be said to have established his fame as a painter. The painting depicts the scene of The Last Supper with Jesus and his 12 disciples. It was during this supper that Jesus announced that “one of them would betray him”.
The painting covers the dining hall wall at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan. In the scene, Leonardo has grouped the disciples in four groups of threes, with Jesus in the centre of the image, sitting calmly. The remarkable thing about this composition is the way that da Vinci brilliantly depicts the disciple’s expressions of shock, outrage and disbelief in response to Jesus’ bombshell announcement. Wonder if you can pick out Judas? He’s fifth on the left so we believe. More about him in a moment!
Deterioration and restoration
Leonardo’s decision to use oil paint rather than the more reliable, fast-drying and stable watercolour fresco technique has made the painting more suscepitible to deterioration. Several painters have attempted to repair the masterpiece, with major restoration works being carried out from 1978 to 1999. Despite this the popularity of the work remains. After the numerous renovations, it could be argued that very little of da Vinci’s original work remains, however the popularity of the mural has endured.
The fascination continues…
The Last Supper continues to mystify and fascinate. Speculation by writers and historical revisionists centre around the supposed hidden messages or hints evident in the painting. Each disciples face was modelled on a real-life person. Judas (him again!) being based on a criminal who da Vinci found in a Milan jail.
The fact that the mural plays a central role in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code has spurred new research and analysis into one of the world’s most famous artworks.
The Last Supper tickets: As a very popular attraction, it is advisable that you book your ticket well in advance to avoid missing out. Also be advised that visitors have restricted access, with strict time slots allocated those visiting this site. To fully appreciate this piece, we recommend picking up the excellent and informative audio guide, available onsite.
After all the mystery and intrigue of the painting, it’s well worth taking the time to visit Milan itself. A city just as fascinating, with places of historical interest to enjoy, fantastic shopping to do, excellent food to indulge in, and a passionate sports legacy to discover. Visit the Duomo di Milano or head to the San Siro for Italians other religion; football! Making sure to relax and take it all in afterwards at one of Milan’s cafes. It’s what the Italians do, so why wouldn’t you want to join them?
So, back to the painting. Is that really Mary Magdalene sitting next to Jesus? What do you think?