The Lord’s Supper Painting

It’s A Miracle The Painting Has Survived


So, why is this 15th century mural still so celebrated today?

“One reason it’s so famous is because its survival is something of a miracle,” King said. “It’s the art world’s most famous endangered species. A century ago it was almost given up for lost. After its most recent restoration something of a miracle in itself we can appreciate its beauty. Because it is still, despite the losses, an amazingly beautiful painting.”

Formal Analysis: A Brief Compositional Overview

Below, we will take a closer look at the Last Supper painting and discuss da Vincis skill in bridging the gap between artistic aesthetics, mathematics, and geometry in this composition. There is quite a lot happening in this painting and da Vinci certainly did not place all the players haphazardly, even though they may appear as such.

Leonardo da Vincis The Last Supper, cropped to only show the three disciples on the far right side of the table Katolophyromai, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Subject Matter

The Last Supper painting is a snapshot of the moment Christ tells his Apostles that one of them will betray him Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me, . The painting depicts each apostle reacting in his own unique way. This is also taking place during the last supper with Jesus before he was given over to the authorities, who were informed by Judas.

Most of the composition is taken up by a long horizontal table seating Christ at the center with his twelve apostles to his left and right. The figures are all facing us, the viewers. We notice three vertical windows behind the figures, the central window being directly behind Christ, highlighting his figure and importance. The exterior, seen through these windows, suggests a green and lush mountainous landscape.

A cropped detail of Christ in Leonardo da Vincis The Last Supper , with the landscape view from the window behind him Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Conspiracy Theories About The Last Supper Painting

The Last Supper by da Vinci has been the topic of numerous religious conspiracy theories, becoming a symbol of mystery with hidden messages. One common conspiracy theory worth noting is the figure of John sitting next to Jesuss right who has been reported to, in fact, be Mother Mary.

Almost all Last Supper paintings before da Vincis version depict John in a feminine manner, and da Vinci also copied the primary characteristics of these previous depictions. We will notice Johns figure always has a languid body posture, commonly depicted reclining or sleeping next to Jesus. He has also been described as the disciple whom Jesus loved in the Gospel of John.

Detail of the beloved disciple to Jesus right, identified by art historians as the apostle John, but speculated in the 2003 book The Da Vinci Code and similar works to be Mary Magdalene Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Examples of John in other paintings include Duccio di Bouninsegnas The Last Supper , Andrea del Castagnos The Last Supper , and Domenico Ghirlandaios The Last Supper , which could have been an influence on how da Vinci set out his painting.

Leonardo da Vinci was also known to depict his subject matter with feminine qualities.

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Why Visit The Leonardo’s Last Supper

The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly one of the most important works of art of all times, both for its innovative approach and for the impact it has had on artists of all ages. This magnificent work of art has been seeing by Leonardo’s contemporary artists as the “painting that speaks,” something that had never happened before.

The Painting Captures A Crucial And Climactic Moment

Jesus Christ The Last Supper Christian Painting 8x10 Real Canvas Art ...

It is well known that The Last Supper depicts the last meal of Jesus with his 12 apostles. This event was followed by his capture and crucifixion. However, Da Vinci was keener to capture the reactions of the apostles through the painting when they came to learn of Jesus knowledge about a betrayer. The expressions captured on their faces are what makes the painting even more captivating.

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How To Visit The Last Supper Of Leonardo Da Vinci

The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly one of the most interesting attractions in the city of Milan. The availability of tickets is very limited, so the advance reservation is considered “mandatory”. Tickets to see this masterpiece can be booked online but must be sold as part of a package, so it is recommended to combine them with a Milan Audioguide, or with entries for the Brera Gallery or for the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.

Naturally, it is also possible to book a guided tour that may also include visiting other churches or attractions located in the center of Milan.

It is also possible to request a visit with a private guide that includes, in addition to the entrance to the Last Supper, a visit to the adjacent Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

The Painting’s Drama Is Heightened By Its Composition And Details

The painting captures the Apostles’ reaction to Jesus’ famous declaration: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

“Leonardo does justice to the episode like no one else,” King said. “He grouped his 13 figures together on the same plane a very difficult task in such a way that each is individuated by gestures and expressions but none detracts from the overall effect.”

Each figure is unique and memorable, down to the smallest details.

“Never before had an artist created such drama in a painting, with such lifelike figures and minute detail,” he said. “Regarding detail, the right hand of Christ is a tour de force. Two joints of the little finger and the ball of his third fingers are seen through the transparency of a wine glass. It’s an absolutely dazzling display of skill.”

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The Painting Has Undergone Many Restorations

It is among those famous Christian paintings that underwent several rounds of restoration to survive the test of time. The tempera-on-stone experiment of Da Vinci was not very successful. The paint started decaying and flaking as early as the 16th century. There were several restoration efforts that left little of the original painting intact.

The Last Supper

Three Early Copies Of The Painting Also Exist

The Story of Easter (The Last Supper)

Though unconfirmed, the three copies that exist of the Last Supper are thought to have been painted by Leonardo da Vincis assistants. The one by Giampietrino resides in the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and was the main guide for the restoration of the original painting. The others were replicated by Andrea Solari and Cesare da Sesto. Their versions are in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Belgium and the Church of Saint Ambrogio in Switzerland, respectfully.

Its no wonder that there are a plethora of books, theses, and lectures dedicated to this one painting. Theres just so much to cover! Thankfully, we have our experts to guide you to whats most important and whats most interesting – in person and online! Laura Benitti and Giacomo Zavatteri are our top scholarly guides on stunning The Last Supper masterpiece, and we couldnt have written this post without them! If you enjoyed reading our blog post, youll definitely enjoy what they have to offer in person and online.

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Other Attractions In The Area

Milan is a big city full of surprises. On a short distance from Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is the Duomo Square in the historic center of the city. In this square is located the famous gothic Cathedral of Milan and the statue of Victor Emanuel II erected in 1896 in honor to the king of Italy. Here you will also find the wonderful Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, a shopping center full of cafes, restaurants and shops. After crossing this gallery you will arrive at the luxurious theater of the city of Milan, La Scala. A walk through a historic center simply unforgettable!

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The Last Supper Was A Seder

According to Britannica, here’s the definition of a seder: “a religious meal served in Jewish homes on the 15th and 16th of the month of Nisan to commence the festival of Passover .” Given that Jesus and his followers had come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, according to The Wall Street Journal, and given the fact that Passover, Good Friday, and Easter are always close together on our modern calendars, it’s entirely understandable why most people assume the Last Supper, which is also often called the Lord’s Supper, was a traditional Passover seder.

It’s more likely, though, that the timing of the Last Supper ended up being coincidental relative to Passover, according to The Washington Post. While Passover was of course already observed by the time of Jesus and his disciples, its celebration usually involved little more than eating a single sacrificed lamb, not having a larger and ritualized meal. The seder such as it’s known today was unlikely to have been practiced at the time of Jesus’ death, so it’s much more likely that the Last Supper was just a meal, the significance of which would come later and would resonate for Christians, not for practitioners of Judaism.

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It Got Off To A Rocky Start

As it turns out, da Vinci started the mural at a most inopportune time. Just a year or so before he began the project, King Louis XII of France invaded Italy.

“This was a terrible tragedy for Italy, the beginning of many decades of invasion and warfare,” King said. “But on a personal level, Louis’ invasion meant that Leonardo lost a commission on which he had worked for eight or ten years, an enormous bronze equestrian monument.”

In wartime, bronze would be collected and melted into gun metal. Da Vinci didn’t just lose money because of the war. The statue would have brought him the acclaim and artistic prestige he craved.

“He received the task of painting ‘The Last Supper’ as compensation,” King said. “It must have seemed a poor substitute.”

Want To Know More About The Last Supper


Leonardo completed his painting of The Last Supper, or Cenacolo Vinciano, in 1498 in the refectory of Santa Maria della Grazie church, where it still resides. Yes, the monks ate in the shadow of The Last Supper. The church and convent of Santa Marie della Grazie have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Does Jesus Have Feet In The Last Supper By Da Vinci

Yes, but during the 1650s, a door was cut into the refectorys wall right underneath the figure of Jesus, which also cut out his feet. In other copies of The Last Supper painting, we can see Jesus feet, such as in Giampietrinos The Last Supper , which is housed in the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

This Masterpiece Has Been Painted Repainted Tampered With And Almost Destroyed Countless Times

Ironically, the painting method that da Vinci chose to save him time actually cost him time. He had to repaint the refectory wall countless times. Other successive events in history degraded the painting as well. In 1652, the monastery built a door along the wall that the painting hung and cut some details, including Jesus feet.

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Leonardo Da Vincis Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, 1495-1498, oil/tempera on plaster

Leonardo da Vincis Last Supper is a Renaissance masterpiece, though it is one which has struggled to survive intact over the centuries. It was commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza for the refectory of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and in order to paint it Leonardo used an oil/tempera mix and applied it to a dry wall. He did this because he wanted to capture the look of an oil painting, but even within his lifetime it began to wear off. Further destruction was caused in the seventeenth century, when a door was cut into the bottom .

In painting the Last Supper, Leonardo created the effect that the room in which Christ and the apostles are seen was an extension of the refectory. This is quite appropriate, since the Last Supper takes up the basic theme of the purpose of the refectory. The extension of space that we see here is similar to what we saw with Masaccios Holy Trinity fresco, painted in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Leonardo is thus using some of the same pictorial devices used by his painter-predecessors earlier in the century.

Facts About The Last Supper Painting

The Last Supper and the Passover Feast HD

Below, we discuss a few interesting facts about da Vincis Last Supper painting, ranging from how he used preparatory sketches to study peoples facial expressions to important copies made of the painting that help us see what it may have looked like in the very beginning. We will also talk about some conspiracy theories about the paintings symbolism and subject matter.

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Three Early Copies Of The Original Exist

Three of da Vinci’s students, including Giampietrino, made copies of his painting early in the 16th century. Giampietrino did a full-scale copy that is now in London’s Royal Academy of Arts. This oil painting on canvas was the primary resource for the latest restoration of the work. The second copy by Andrea Solari is in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Belgium while the third copy by Cesare da Sesto is in the Church of Saint Ambrogio in Switzerland.

The Last Supper Copy – by Giampietrino

Nuances Of The Last Supper

This mural painting, created in the late 15th-century was completed 3 years after work was started in 1495. Located in Milans Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, it is hailed as one of the most iconic paintings by da Vinci. The original painting has a dimension of 4.6 meters x 8.8 meters . The topic is the last meal taken by Jesus and his apostles before he is betrayed by Judas. The painting is in fact a visual interpretation of the event chronicled in the Christian New Testament. It depicts the reaction of the apostles after Christ reveals that one of them is going to betray him.

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Andrea Del Sarto Monastery Of San Salvi Florence 1525

The next stop along our Last Supper trail takes us out of the citys historical center to the Monastery of San Salvi. This hidden gem houses Andrea del Sartos The Last Supper, which Giorgio Vasari described as an Endless majesty with its absolute grace of all the painted figures.Experts rank del Sartos The Last Supper second only to Leonardos.

Del Sarto was a painter in the High Renaissance, instrumental in the development of the Early Mannerism period. This painting shows Del Sarto at his artistic maturity, with perfect composition and vivid expressive color.

Around the table, set up with a white tablecloth, all the apostles are depicted on the same side as Jesus. A dark haired Judas sits on Jesus right, receiving a piece of bread. John reaches out in a tender expression, entwining his fingers with Jesus. Del Sartos drawings for this and other scene are in the Uffizi Gallery.

The most original part of del Sartos Last Supper is the upper part. Del Sarto painted a perfectly foreshortened balcony where two characters, at sunset, look over a scene below. During the siege of Florence in 1530, Charles Vs invading army spared The Last Supper for its sheer beauty.

Address: Piazza di S. Salvi 10, Florence

The Last Supper By Da Vinci In Context

The Last Supper

The Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most artistically astute paintings created, not only of the 15th century but in the present day too it is truly timeless. Below, we discuss some of the paintings historical context and the detailed techniques used to create it. Due to various environmental and medium-based factors, the painting has degraded over the years and lost most of its originality. However, from various restorations, we still get to experience this Biblical masterpiece.


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Standing The Tests Of Time

The Last Supper painting is a testament to the skill and precision of one of the best Renaissance artists, Leonardo da Vinci, who painted and depicted a famous scene in Christian art that of the Biblical Last Supper. The Last Supper painting has, furthermore, been through almost everything a painting can go through, and probably should not go through.

From deterioration, destruction, numerous restorations, and endless speculations, it remains intact on the refectory wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is now protected in the climate-controlled room, allowing only several visitors at a time to view it for a few minutes.

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Composition Of The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper with golden section, 1498 _-_The_Last_Supper_-golden_section.jpg” rel=”nofollow”> Wikimedia Commons, Public domain, PD-Art)

There are 13 figures in the painting, including Jesus. Leonardo balanced all of these individuals by employing perspective. Jesus is the vanishing point where all of the lines in the painting converge. Not only does this give the composition depth, but it also highlights the importance of Jesus in the narrative.

Additionally, Leonardo made sure that all of the apostles were organized in a symmetrical way. A group of six flanks Jesus on either side, creating balance at the long, dining table.

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