The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper painting Leonardo da Vinci c.1495-1498. Most famous Renaissance fresco depicting the last dinner of Jesus.
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (1495-1498)

The Last Supper Painting by Leonardo da Vinci

Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci's self-portrait, literally known as Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk circa 1512.
Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk
(Self-Portrait) by
Leonardo da Vinci (1512)
The Last Supper Leonardo da Vinci created between 1495 and 1498, is a mural revealing the last dinner Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles had, reportedly in the Gospel of John in Christianity. The large mural painted in Italian High Renaissance, as one of the most famous paintings in the world, is also known with other names, such as The Last Dinner, The Final Meal, The Final Supper painting or with its original Italian name, “Il Cenacolo” or “L'Ultima Cena”. The Dominican Monastery and the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is the permanent home for the painting. The Last Supper is the second-largest tempera painting in the church after “Sala delle Asse” ceiling painting Leonardo completed in 1498. The famous artist's efficient use of the space he painted, his mastery in depictions, and his romantic approach to presenting a religious theme in a way that touches the human spirit have made this painting one of the most recognizable artworks in the world with Mona Lisa, Guernica and The Scream etc. According to some art critics, Leonardo’s mural was not only a subject handled in the Christian Sphere but also led to the transformation of visual art trends from Renaissance to High Renaissance.

The Sala delle Asse or with its English name the Room of the Tower painted by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci in 1498.
Sala delle Asse (The Room of the Tower)
by Leonardo da Vinci (1498)
The Last Supper meaning, which forms the basis of the Eucharist rite in Christianity, is also known as other biblical names, “Holy Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper”. The table was where Jesus shared his visions with his apostles after he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, such as Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial of knowing him. Although this event, which also forms the basis of Thanksgiving, is not mentioned in the New Testament, it has found its place in Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox sects. Canonical gospels write that the meal and the crucifixion took place after Jesus’s “Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem”. Three Synoptic Gospels including the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luka, and the Last Supper Scripture KJV noted the subject as a Passover Meal, reminding Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is a very common tradition among Israelites and their salvation from Egypt. It is the table that Jesus parted the bread with his hand and shared with his disciples and said that the bread was his body and the wine was his blood.

The Last Supper Analysis in Historical Context

Portrait of Ludovico Sforza, the art patron of Leonardo da Vinci, and Duke of Milan, Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis c.1494-1498
Portrait of Ludovico Sforza by
Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis
The Last Supper fresco is commissioned by Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, as a part of the restoration works on the Church and other related structures. Ludovico Sforza was the art patron of Italian Renaissance painters including Leonardo da Vinci during the Milanese Renaissance. The Last Supper da Vinci is a tempera painting on various materials, such as pitch, gesso and mastic. The reason for using so many different painting surfaces is that it allows the artist to make revisions on his masterpiece. It is not known when the famous fresco was exactly completed between 1495 and 1498, as documents relating to the construction of the church were destroyed in the years. However, it is understood that an abbot complained to Leonardo about the delay and from the answer sheet given to this, the work was about to end in 1497. In this correspondence, Leonardo stated that he could not find a sufficiently original evil face for betraying Judas, and that if he was pressured, he would have to repeat a figure used in one of previous the last dinner paintings.

The original Last Supper Painting by Leonardo da Vinci, a photograph was taken in the 1970s before restorations.
The Original Last Supper Painting
in 1970s Before Restorations
It is known that Leonardo used the faces of real people in and around Milan to describe the 12 Apostles. Jesus and Judas figures were the characters that challenged him the most. During one of his tours in the city, the abbot of the abbey complained about the delay, following a complaint to the Sforza family, the patron of the artist, that Leonardo had been delayed because of his loafing and laziness. Another rumor is that the artist said that, due to his rebellious nature, he might have to use the face of the high priest as the demon face of Judas if they rushed him. For reasons such as the complexity of the surfaces and methods used in making the fresco, the deliberate damage to the work in the historical timeline and bad environmental conditions, the most famous Leonardo painting has been restored many times.

Crucifixion by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano c.1495. Fresco is in Santa Maria delle Grazie refectory, with the Last Supper.
Crucifixion by Giovanni
Donato da Montorfano (1495)
While it is known that the work of restoring the Last Supper was finished in 1999, only a small piece of the original the Last Supper painting da Vinci painted remains. It is known that since Sforza wanted the church to be finished as soon as possible, the masters working on the construction filled the walls with a perishable kind of rubble that traps moisture. Since this building material made it difficult for the paint to adhere to the wall due to moisture, it caused indescribable damage to Leonardo's painting completed on February 9, 1498. The lunettes on the main painting formed by the three-arched ceiling of the refectory are painted with the Sforza coat-of-arms. The opposite wall of the refectory is covered with a Crucifixion fresco by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano.

Architect of the Church Santa Maria delle Grazie related to the Last Supper, Donato Bramante's Man with a Halbard c.1486-1487
Man with a Halbard by
Donato Bramante (1486-1487)
Both Giovanni Donato and Leonardo da Vinci utilized the coat-of-arm and figures from the Sforza family, however, these emblems have succumbed to time and deteriorated in both artworks. The fresco covers one of the walls of the monastery refectory from one end to the other. Although the Last Supper of Christ was a traditional design for the walls of the refectories at that time, it is known that the room was still idle while Leonardo was working on the religious painting. Italian architect, Donato Bramante, who is famous St. Peter's Basilica and Man with a Halbard painting, was the designer of the church, however Leonardo’s patron Ludovico Sforza had planned to reshape this sacred building into a family mausoleum. The reason why the famous artist painted an empty room, which was not yet known whether it would be a refectory or not, and a morgue chapel was built next to the church, is that the architect's drawings were changed at the request of Sforza.

The Last Supper Medium

Church of Holy Mary of Grace (Santa Maria delle Grazie) as the home of the Last Supper by Italian architect Donato Bramante.
Church of Holy Mary of Grace
(Santa Maria delle Grazie)
Home of the Last Supper
The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo da Vinci to adorn the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The large mural painting presents the room of the last supper Jesus ate with his 12 Disciples. Leonardo preferred to work with oil paint, which allows an artist to make changes as he wishes, but frescoes are difficult canvases as painting surfaces. It is understood that he tried to use an early application of the shadow-light technique, which was familiar from the Baroque Period. The painting technique also known as chiaroscuro depends on the sharp contrast of dark colors and vivid tones to create a live image for the observer.

Portrait of the Baroque painter Caravaggio by Ottavio Leoni c.1621. The dark light technique is related to the Last Supper.
Portrait of Caravaggio
by Ottavio Leoni (1621)
Masters like Rembrandt van Rijn and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio were the later period Baroque painters that availed of themselves this design, clearly seen in the three versions of David and Goliath paintings (Madrid, Vienna, Rome). Instead of painting a part of his work on the wall, which is freshly plastered every day, Leonardo transferred the image in his mind on wall painting as a whole, which was covered with two layers of gesso, then with pitch and mastic. He then used the white lead addition technique of tempera to increase the brightness, a technique developed by Florentine Cennino d'Andrea Cennini, a 14th Century artist. Although this addition was a mix applied on dry surfaces and landscapes, which Cennino Cennini had considered a more challenging painting area, it provided the realism of the chiaroscuro effect that Leonardo da Vinci aimed for.

Portrait of Louis XII by Jean Perréal. The King of France and Naples, Louis XII thought removing the Last Supper to France.
Portrait of Louis XII by
Jean Perréal (1514)
Only one year after the painting was completed, in 1499, the King of France and Naples, Louis XII, thought of removing the painting from the wall and moving it to France. However, this action was not implemented on suspicion of further damaging the artwork in the already worn state. It is known that, with the invasion of Italy by the French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796, the French anti-clerical revolutionary soldiers used the “Santa Maria delle Grazie” monastery as an outpost for stockpiling and ammunition. It is noted that some soldiers threw stones at the fresco and climbed the wall to gouge the eyes of the apostles. It has been noted that the refectory, where the famous painting was located during the time of the French invasion, also functioned as a prison, and that some prisoners may have deliberately damaged the artwork.

Ruler of France Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, c. 1806, related to the Last Supper.
Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne by
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1806)
In 1821, Stefano Barezzi, an expert in removing frescoes without damage, was asked to remove the famous painting from the wall and embroider it on a canvas. Some damage was done to the middle part of the painting when Barezzi realized that the work could not be described as a fresco in the full sense of the word. Although the pieces removed were engraved where they belonged with classical glue, this unsuccessful restoration attempt also damaged the painting to some extent. During the 7 year period between 1901 and 1908, Italian painter and restorer Luigi Cavenaghi is the person who carried out the first successful restoration of the famous painting. In 1924, Oreste Silvestri also did a thorough cleaning and fixed some parts in place with plaster. On August 15, 1943, as part of the ongoing Second World War, the refectory of the monastery was hit by an Allied bomb. Thanks to the sandbags lined up in front of the famous fresco to protect it, it is estimated that the painting was not damaged by the bomb fragments, but was damaged by loud noise and vibration.

Self-portrait of Oreste Silvestri c. between 1900-1936. The Italian artist had restored the Last Supper da Vinci painted.
Self-Portrait by
Oreste Silvestri
In 1954, a restoration team including artist Mauro Pellicioli and Brera inspector Fernanda Wittgens repaired the work. Pellicioli’s ingenious idea was to re-adhere the paint to the wall with the help of clear shellac. This building material caused the original painting to have more vivid and saturated colors. Other the Last Supper restoration works have been done on the most famous painting of the period caused a lot of change from the way it was made by Leonardo. In particular, the changes made to the faces of the apostles Peter, Andrew and James have taken them far away from the original Leonardo characters. Between 1978 and 1999, 21-year comprehensive restoration work was carried out under the guidance of Pinin Brambilla Barcilon, one of the world's leading names in the preservation and restoration of Renaissance frescoes. Although there was a search for ways to move the painting to a more sheltered environment when it was realized that this was not possible without damaging the painting, the refectory of the monastery was transformed into a sheltered environment with climate control.

Pinin Brambilla Barcilon, who restored the Last Supper together with Gian Alberto Dell’Acqua photo taken in 1956-1957.
Pinin Brambilla Barcilon and
Gian Alberto Dell’Acqua
in the Restoration of
San Marco Church
Milan (1956-1957)
Although the main purpose of the restoration was to bring the masterpiece closer to its The last supper original painting state by erasing the traces of the restoration works carried out with limited means according to the conditions of the time in the 18th and 19th Centuries, since some parts of the painting were irreparably destroyed, these parts were filled with the help of light watercolors to show that they are not original. A detailed study was carried out to determine the original form of the painting, using scientific tests, such as infrared reflectoscope and microscopic core samples together with original Leonardo drawings preserved in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. When the last major restoration work was completed on May 28, 1999, visitors in groups of 25 people were able to see the work by making an appointment in advance with their the Last Supper tickets, and the exhibition lasted only 15 minutes for each group, considering the damage human breath can do to the fresco. This exhibition drew a strong reaction from some critics and art historians with the deviated faces and the differently depicted hand of Jesus. James Beck, the founder of ArtWatch International and a professor at Columbia University, was at the forefront of the reactions.

Who's Who in the Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci's the Last Supper reveals some apostles of Jesus, who are Bartholomew, James Minor, and Andrew.
The Last Supper Detail of Apostles
Bartholomew, James Minor and Andrew
Leonardo da Vinci, who painted the Last Supper famous fresco to depict the reactions of the apostles when Jesus announces that one of them will betray him. A closer look at their facial expressions, many of them are portrayed with mimics that reflect human emotions such as surprise, fear, doubt, and anger. While only Peter the Apostle, John the Apostle, Jesus Christ and Judas or Iscariot, were identified when the painting was first made, an unsigned copy that emerged later in the mid-16th century in another tempera painting clearly revealed the identities of all the apostles in the Last Supper. Looking from left to right, Bartholomew, Alphaeus’s son James Minor, and Andrew are depicted as a group of three, all in dreadful shock.

Leonardo da Vinci's the Last Supper presents some apostles of Jesus, who are Judas Iscariot, John the Evangelist, and Peter.
The Last Supper Detail of Apostles
Judas, John and Peter
Judas Iscariot, John the Apostle, and Peter the Apostle are seated separately from the others in another group of three. The salt cellar that Judas overthrew is a reference to the expression of betraying salt in the Near Eastern culture, in other words, the fellow rebelling against his master. Judas’s garments containing green, red, and blue colors reveal a conflict with his face, which, unlike the other apostles, is in shadow, and his head is depicted lower than the others. The character of Judas is quite evident with the money bag he holds, as well as in astonishment and anger with the emergence of his treacherous plan. This bag may be the purse he received as a reward when he sold Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate for silver, or it may also be a reference to Judas being a treasure hunter.

Leonardo da Vinci's the Last Supper shows some apostles of Jesus, who are Thomas, Philip, and James the Greater.
The Last Supper Detail of Apostles
Thomas, Philip and James the Greater
Between the Cantos 31 and 34 in the 9th circle was Treachery, as noted in the painting “The Barque of Dante” by the romantic painter Eugène Delacroix in 19th Century France, long after Leonardo’s The Last Supper, and in the Inferno of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. All three contents are related to each other and one of the Treachery Cantos is not coincidentally named Judecca. Peter, or Petrus as he was called in the original text, is depicted with a knife in his hand. This is Leonardo's reference to the aggression perpetrated by Peter when Jesus was arrested by the Romans in Gethsemane. As mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, “Live by the sword, die by the sword”, one of Jesus’s most famous words, was uttered at this time. Peter puts his hand on the shoulder of the beloved disciple John and leans towards him, pointing to Jesus, he asks him to question who will betray him among them.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ also known as The Kinnaird Resurrection by Italian High Renaissance painter Raphael c.1502.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
(Kinnaird Resurrection)
by Raphael (1502)
John, the youngest and most beloved of the 12 apostles, is depicted quite saddened by the shock of the news he received. Although the face of John, drawn with more luminous and childlike details compared to the other apostles, caused some commentators to confuse him with the Virgin Mary, however, it has become certain that this person is John, since the trilogy in Leonardo's work represents 12 Apostles, and from the later unsigned copy. Thomas, Philip and James the Greater form the third trilogy, moving from left to right in the famous fresco. While James the Greater threw up his hands and looked quite upset, Philip seemed dissatisfied with what had been said and seemed to expect a continuation of Jesus’s explanation. Among the apostles, apart from Judas, it can be said that the first character to meet the situation with maturity and think about the future is Thomas. Thomas's raised index finger also indicates this character’s unwavering trust in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, just as Leonardo depicts him as a student wanting to ask a question to his teacher.

The Last Supper painting by da Vinci includes three apostles, who are Matthew, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot.
The Last Supper Detail of Apostles
Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and
Simon the Zealot
Matthew, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot are the final trilogy in painting. Here, Matthew and Jude are seen looking at Simon as if questioning him. The character also known with other names, Simon the Canaanite and Simon the Canaanean, was the most hidden apostle of Jesus. Leonardo da Vinci positioned all the apostles horizontally at a table, just like in other depictions of the supper paintings. In this way, everyone who looked at the picture would be able to see all the apostles and their reactions clearly. In some of the previous works, Judas was depicted separately from the other 11 apostles and with his back turned to the viewer, as well as by placing a halo over the heads of all the apostles except Judas, to symbolize his treachery.

Jesus Christ served a piece of bread to his beloved disciples just before being taken by Roman due to the betrayal of Judas.
The Last Supper Detail
of Hands of the Jesus
However, this time, the technique Leonardo used was to push the character of Judas into the dark with a more baroque approach by making use of light and shadow plays. In Leonardo’s depiction, Jesus is pointing with both hands at a piece of bread. While the figure of Jesus offers a piece of bread to Thomas and James the Greater with his left hand, Judas reaches out for another piece of bread, not the bread that Jesus pointed with his right palm, due to his feeling of horror caused by foreshadowing of his treachery. While Jesus’s left hand is serving a meal, his right hand is depicted as if he wants to hold that meal.

Leonardo da Vinci's the Last Supper painting with names of disciples, shows who's who in the Last Supper portrait of Jesus.
The Last Supper Names of the Apostles
Christ’s palm display of the bread he offered Judas was deliberately designed to express that he glimpsed his crucifixion. Little light and shadow games on Leonardo’s painting landscape and the artist's masterful perspective draw all the attention to the face of Jesus. When we look at the face of Christ, we see that he is focused on the bread he points with his left hand, with his head bowed and accepting his destiny. The famous renaissance painter has turned his art into a treasure hunt and directs those who look at the masterpiece to the betrayal of Judas with his masterful details. All in all, from left to right, Bartholomew, James Minor, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Thomas, James Major, Philip, Matthew, Thaddeus (Jude) and Simon, who are the 12 Apostles in the Last Supper, have formed a trilogy among themselves.

The Last Supper of Jesus Christ

Leonardo da Vinci's the Last Supper artwork reveals a portrait of Jesus Christ eating his last dinner with disciples.
The Last Supper
Detail of Jesus Christ
Jesus and the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci was a painting that had been discoursed on by contemporary artists of the period. Italian painter known for his documents on art theory and a leading figure in Italian Mannerism, Gian Paolo Lomazzo wrote a letter to Bernardo Zenale, a friend of Leonardo. Lomazzo's advice was that it is difficult to imagine a lovelier or kinder face than in the works of “James the Greater” or “James the Less”, so Leonardo should leave Jesus's face blank. The head and brain of Jesus, also known as sensus communis in Latin, are located in the middle of the picture, reminiscent of the golden ratio. Yet, the artist did not leave the face of Jesus blank, or possibly some restorations after him completed the non existing parts over their approach of visual art.

The Last Supper Matthew the Apostle

The Last Supper presents a portrait of Saint Matthew the Apostle, as Levi according to the New Testament, a gospel writer.
The Last Supper Detail of
Matthew the Apostle
The Last Supper reveals a portrait of Matthew the Aposte, also known as Levi, was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus and is considered one of the Four Evangelists as a gospel writer. According to the New Testament, Matthew witnessed the ascension of Jesus and some later church fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, John Chrysostom and Athanasius of Alexandria, claimed that he also preached among the Jewish people before spreading his gospel to other countries. Matthew is part of the last trilogy in Leonardo’s famous fresco and is the apostle who put into writing the biblical phrase “Live by the sword, die by the sword” spoken by Jesus in reference to the Petrus violence in the Gethsemane. According to the gospels, Matthew, son of Alphaeus, was a tax collector from Galilee. Despite being seen as a sinner by other Jewish people for helping the Romans due to his occupation, his high profile work demonstrates that he was a literate with a good level of Greek Language and possibly Roman.

The Calling of Saint Matthew baroque painting by Caravaggio was created between 1599-1600, related to the Last Supper.
The Calling of Saint Matthew
by Caravaggio (1599-1600)
When Matthew was first invited to a dinner by Jesus, the Pharisees and Scribes accused him of rallying tax collectors and sinners around him. According to Luke 5:32 New King James Version, Christ answered “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance”. Matthew the Apostle was recognized as a saint in all Anglican, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox churches. Besides da Vinci’s figure, baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio also created three different paintings depicting the watershed moments of the life of Matthew at the beginning of the 17th Century, which are “The Calling of Saint Matthew”, “The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew” and “The Inspiration of Saint Matthew”.

The Last Supper Luke

The Last Supper does not include a portrait of Luke. Luke the Evangelist is a painting by Jean Bourdichon circa 1503-1508.
Luke the Evangelist by
Jean Bourdichon (1503-1508)
The Last Supper original painting by Leonardo da Vinci does not include a figure defined as Luke among the 12 Apostles Jesus chose but Luke must have been one of the 70 Disciples who followed Jesus Christ. Luke the Evangelist is not only the author of one of the four canonical gospels, but the creator of more than a quarter of the New Testament scripture according to Christian priest Saint Jerome of Stridon and Greek historian Eusebius of Caesarea. In the Pauline Epistle to the Colossians, Luke had been mentioned as a doctor or physician by referencing to his Greek name meaning healer. Saint Luke, whose feast day is October 18, is the protector of students, doctors, butchers, academics, and all health workers according to the Catholic Church. The Last Supper Luke 22:7-23 NIV indicates the last Passover in the biblical context.

The Last Supper John the Apostle

The Last Supper reveals a portrait of John the Apostle, who was the most beloved disciple of Jesus Christ, as mentioned.
The Last Supper Detail
of John the Apostle
The Last Supper painting reveals a portrait of John the Apostle. The Apostle John lived longer than any other apostle and was the only disciple who died naturally. The son of Zebedee and Salome, John is also the brother of another apostle, James. Churches identify him as the Beloved Disciple, John the Evangelist, John the Elder, or John of Patmos. The gospel writer John and John the Baptist are different people. Some scholars of Christian history doubtfully speak of John, who is considered to be the author of part of the Gospel of John and Johannine. The discussions about John do not end there. In the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, there were also rumors that John, who was depicted as a figure, which cannot be certainly understood whether it was a man or a woman, and standing very close to Jesus, was actually Mary Magdalene in later periods artists and writers, like Dan Brown’s novel of The Da Vinci Code.

The Last Supper Judas Iscariot

The Last Supper presents a portrait of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon the Apostle. Judas betrayed Jesus after the Passover.
The Last Supper Detail
of Judas Iscariot
The Last Supper created in the Italian High Renaissance, depicts a historical subject in Christian art. According to four different Canonical Gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. By addressing Jesus as “rabbi” and kissing him, Judas revealed the identity of the Messiah to the Sanhedrin, which was a title to identify an elder in the ancient Land of Israel, and someone from the classes of Rabbinate Jewish courts. Many of the apostles wrote down the betrayal of Judas, while the event itself created the term “Judas kiss” among daily language. The Gospel of Mark, one of the oldest gospels, states that Judas betrayed Jesus in the Passover meal for no reason, but it also indicates that Jesus had a vision of this betrayal during his last supper. The Gospel of Matthew says that Judas sold Jesus for 30 silver coins, while the Gospels of Luke and John wrote that he betrayed him because he was possessed by the Devil. Judas has been called differently in different congregations. While some early Orthodoxy Churches regarded him as a traitor and called “The Gnostic Gospel of Judas” heresy, in some cultures he was regarded as the only true apostle who helped Jesus on the path of Crucifixion and Resurrection that will bring salvation to humanity. According to Leonardo’s painting the man in shadow, who is Judas in the Last Supper, has the features that indicate his infidelity, such as being at a lower rank from others and having an evil face.

Apostle Peter and the Last Supper

The Last Supper reveals a portrait of Peter the Apostle holding a knife, which indicates the violence after the final meal.
The Last Supper Detail of
Peter the Apostle and Knife
The Last Supper reveals a portrait of Peter the Apostle, who was a former fisherman like his older brother Andrew, as one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ. Peter, who is accepted to have died on the Vatican Hill, was also accepted as the First Pope of Christianity. According to Christian narratives, Peter was crucified in Rome under the Emperor Nero. Although the role of his successors in religion is debatable, it is accepted that Jesus gave him a special position in the church. In the Last Supper Portrait, Peter is pictured behind Judas with a knife in his hand. He leans over Young John and speaks to him to ask Jesus to reveal who is the traitor. Historians have agreed that written texts such as Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Acts of Peter, Judgment of Peter, and Apocalypse of Peter that appeared after his death do not belong to him, and should be assumed as pseudepigrapha. Besides being a biblical and artistic figure of Leonardo, Apostle Peter and the Last Supper 2012 movie directed by Gabriel Sabloff, displays a story resolving around Disciple Peter, who talked to the prison guard and deny Jesus after the final supper.

The Last Supper Mary Magdalene

Portrait of Mary Magdalene by Andrea Solari circa 1524, related to the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
Portrait of Mary Magdalene
by Andrea Solari (1524)
The Last Supper artwork is the subject of endless debate with its hidden messages and symbolism. After Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code”, the famous fresco has been the target of many rumors. The most well-known speculation on the painting is that the character sitting to the left of Jesus is actually Mary Magdalene, not John the Apostle. The source of this rumor is Lynn Picknett's “The Templar Revelation”, and “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” book by Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent, and Richard Leigh. Authors and some speculators state that in the center of the painting, there exists a letter M, which symbolizes Matrimonio or Mary Magdalene. According to Ross King, an authority on Italian artworks, although the character's being Mary Magdalene is not a very surprising depiction for Leonardo, art historians are in a consensus that this figure is John from the famous painter’s preliminary works and the copies of his assistants. King’s opinion was basically based on Magdalene’s titles and fame as the leading character in Dominican Order and labeled as “Apostle to the Apostles”. One controversial issue among art critics is whether Leonardo used Fibonacci numbers, which were executed in the Last Supper da Vinci Code book of Dan Brown. “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper” by New Testament scholar Brant J. Pitre, is also another comprehensive and academic study that aims to solve the mystery of the Lord’s Supper painting outside of science fiction.

The Last Supper Facts

The Last Supper
portrait is the matter of interesting facts due to its history. Leonardo
s painting, which he completed in 1498, became unrecognizable after the 1500s due to its flaking paints due to moisture. In 1532, Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano, known for an earlier structure for binomial coefficients and the binomial theorem, commented “blurred and colorless compared with what I remember of it when I saw it as a boy” about the masterpiece. A door was opened in the middle of the fresco, which became unrecognizable in 1652, and later, when it was understood that it was the work of Leonardo, the door was closed with a brick wall.

Old Pilgrim painting by Baroque master Pietro Michelangelo Bellotti created between 1660-1670, related to the Last Supper.
Old Pilgrim by Pietro
Michelangelo Bellotti
While this wall was built over the reference of Leonardo’s original depiction of Jesus’s feet near a cross, heralding the Messiah’s impending doom, the current version of The Last Supper features a triple-curved arch, which is a lunette instead of that cross. The first comprehensive restoration work on The Last Supper was carried out in 1726 by a Baroque painter named Michelangelo Bellotti, who is best known for the Old Pilgrim painting. The effort of the painter, who filled the gaps with oil paint and then polished the entire fresco, without destroying the colors leftover from Leonardo da Vinci, was only effective until 1770. The curtain that was covered to protect the painting in 1768 also contributed to the deterioration process of the painting by trapping the moisture inside more. The second restoration attempt was made by an obscure artist named Giuseppe Mazza. The romantic painter, who started to work by stripping off all the painting left by Bellotti, painted the wall from the beginning, but when the faces of the three figures remained at the end, he left the work unfinished due to the reaction of the people of Milan, who realized that the work had deviated from the original.

German poet Goethe in the Roman Campagna painting by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein c.1787, related to the Last Supper.
Goethe in the Roman Campagna
by Johann Heinrich
Wilhelm Tischbein (1787)
According to the notes of the German poet and playwright Goethe in 1800, more than half a meter of the fresco’s hall was filled with rainwater due to a heavy downpour and storm. Leonardo's characters are painted in groups of 3, 5 groups and 13 people in total. Jesus is a single figure and resembles a triangle. The table where the Last Supper was eaten has 8 legs. Italian musician Giovanni Maria Pala, on the other hand, stated that he analyzed the fresco from left to right and created a composition by considering the location of the figures, including the hands of Jesus, as notes. Pala’s song with hidden notes lasting only 40 seconds, was marked as the Last Supper melody in 2007. Besides its classical notes, Belphegor’s the Last Supper song is also another musical work done on the famous fresco.

There exist three open windows of the Cenacle room behind Jesus Christ, where he and apostles ate their Last Supper.
The Last Supper Detail
of Windows Behind
Jesus Christ
The windows behind Jesus and the apostles add a sense of serenity to the painting while looking outward, a mountain and blue sky are seen. This could be a depiction of heaven from the eyes of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s great interest in symmetry and mathematics was the evident of hidden details in the Last Supper painting. Leonardo drew a string in the radial direction, marking the table ends, floor lines, and orthogonal edges of the six ceiling columns. He drew diagonal lines from both the right and left edges of the horizontal line to the corners of the ceiling and determined points for the horizontal lines of the twelve rows of ballot boxes. The obsession with symmetry made the background of The Last Supper da Vinci painted a seamless set of lines. Art historians are in a consensus that Leonardo da Vinci was an agnostic or an atheist. This coincides with the fact that he chose the models among common people for the faces of the people in the Last Supper real painting.

Comments on the Last Supper Painting Meaning

Portrait of Fra Luca Pacioli, was a close friend to da Vinci by Jacopo de’ Barbari c.1495, related to the Last Supper.
Portrait of Luca Pacioli
by Jacopo de
 Barbari (1495)
The Last Supper has been commented by many famous people throughout the world history. Italian mathematician and collaborator of Leonardo da Vinci works, Fra Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli, was a close friend to the artist. When The Last Supper was first presented to people, the famous mathematician described the work of art as “a symbol of man’s burning desire for salvation” and referred to Leonardo’s inner world. The painting soon deteriorated so much that in 1556 the Italian painter and engineer Giorgio Vasari described the fresco as just a pile of spots, and no character could be clearly distinguished. Gian Paolo Lomazzo was of the same opinion, saying that the painting was completely gone. Mary Shelley, the author of the gothic novel, one of the precursors of the science fiction genre known as Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, noted her impressions on The Last Supper in her 1996 travel article called “Rambles in Germany and Italy”. According to the romantic writer, Leonardo's fresco is a combination of divine work with the absence of guile.

Study Drawings of the Last Supper Fresco and Early Copies

The Last Supper painting by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli, was created as a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece in 1520.
The Last Supper by
Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli
The Last Supper painting of Leonardo da Vinci is the source of three known early copies. The first two of these works were made by Leonardo’s assistants. The first was an oil painting made in 1520 by the Italian painter Andrea Solari from Milan and is in Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Tongerlo Abbey, Belgium. The second was by Northern Italian apprentice Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli, better known by his pseudonym Giampietrino, who was the creator of the second oil painting copy at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Both works, are almost original in size and are preliminary or imitation works that convey all the details of Leonardo’s masterpiece and have survived to the present day. Apart from these paintings, a preliminary worksheet on which Leonardo drew all the apostles’ names above their heads in his notebook has survived to the present day. As a later reproduction, one of the original sizes, commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, has been created by Roman mosaic artist Giacomo Raffaelli between 1809 and 1814, and stored in the Minoritenkirche in Vienna.

The Last Supper Art in Popular Culture

The Sixty Last Suppers black and white by American pop artist Andy Warhol c.1986, related to original version of da Vinci.
The Sixty Last Suppers
by Andy Warhol (1986)
The Last Supper is one of the oldest works that have been parodied all around the world for many years, just like Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, Jan van Eyck's The Arnolfini Portrait or Grant Wood's American Gothic. The Last Supper has been imitated by many contemporary artists and producers from Andy Warhol to Salvador Dalí. Leonardo's famous fresco has been a source of inspiration for popular culture as well as a source of copy for all forms of contemporary art.

The Sacrament of the Last Supper by Salvador Dalí painting created in 1955, related to the Leonardo da Vinci and Renaissance.
The Sacrament of the Last Supper
by Salvador Dalí (1955)
Andy Warhol’s The Last Supper, also known as “Sixty Last Suppers” was the monumental painting that great American Pop artist painted in 1986 near the end of his life, “The Sacrament of the Last Supper” was created by Salvador Dalí in 1955 and depicts Jesus as a beardless and blond man. In the Last Supper Dalí created, the upper body of Jesus Christ is on the table where he ate his last supper with his apostles, just like a ghost or a holy spirit. All the apostles are pictured with their heads bowed and beyond recognition, and Jesus is pointing with both hands to his sides. Perhaps this depiction is a reference to the moment of the crucifixion.

baroque design of the Last Supper by Jacopo Tintoretto c.1594 related to Leonardo da Vinci's renaissance painting.
The Last Supper by
Jacopo Tintoretto (1594)
This reproduction was the most famous after painting in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Besides the Last Supper story in biblical scriptures and late period reproductions, the last dinner da Vinci painted had was a popular subject for the High Renaissance in Italy after Leonardo. Jacopo Tintoretto was one of those artists, who painted the biblical story on canvases with different angles and colors. The Last Supper Tintoretto created in 1594 hangs in the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Besides the Last Supper canvas artworks, another fresco on the same subjects done by Italian Renaissance painters Cosimo Rosselli and Biagio d'Antonio between 1481-1482, is located in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.

The Last Supper by Cosimo Rosselli and Biagio d’Antonio was created in 1481-1482, located in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.
The Last Supper by Cosimo Rosselli
and Biagio d’Antonio (1481-1482)
Mary Beth Edelson’s “Some Living American Women Artists / Last Supper”, created on gelatin silver printing paper with crayon, string and typewriter, depicted famous female artists of the period with a theme similar to Leonardo's fresco. This interesting piece of art in the Museum of Modern Art has been seen as a badge of the second feminist movement. The artwork has been replaced the heads of the apostles with the most famous female artists including Lynda Benglis, Elaine de Kooning, Nancy Graves, Lila Katzen, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson, M. C. Richards, Alma Thomas, Helen Frankenthaler, June Wayne, Lee Krasner and Yoko Ono.

Some Living American Women Artists after the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci by Mary Beth Edelson c.1972
Some Living American Women Artists
After Last Supper by
Mary Beth Edelson (1972)
These women are presented in the middle of the painting, while artists such as Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Nancy Grossman, Hannah Wilke and Jennifer Bartlett are featured in the side frame. Expressionist painter Emil Nolde’s The Last Supper is another well-known art piece all about the Last Supper painting of Leonardo due to the Nolde’s recognition. The Last Supper statue named “Self-Portrait Looking at The Last Supper” in Metropolitan Museum of Art of NYC, has been created by sculptor Marisol Escobar presents Leonardo’s The Last Supper as a three-dimensional, sculptural ensemble using painted and drawn wood, plywood, sandstone, plaster and aluminum. Leonardo’s The last supper painting has been the subject of many works in the television world.

The Last Supper painting of Emil Nolde c.1909, after Leonardo da Vinci. One of the most famous paintings in the world.
The Last Supper by
Emil Nolde (1909)
The movie “Quo Vadis”, which features a scene where Peter is preaching to the Christian people, is about the Last Supper that Jesus had with his apostles. The famous sentence, a Latin quote from the Bible, and the transformation of a scene from the movie into Leonardo's painting are clear references to the famous fresco. In Luis Buñuel’s 1961 film Viridiana, the apostles were portrayed by beggars. A beggar who fired a flash to make them photographed. The Last Supper picture was considered as blasphemous for the religion by the Vatican and were excommunicated.

Marisol Escobar's Self-Portrait Looking at the Last Supper 3D design created in 1984.
Self-Portrait Looking at the Last Supper
by Marisol Escobar (1984)
In the 1970 American black comedy film M*A*S*H directed by Robert Altman, the characters Hawkeye Pierce and Walt Waldowski held a last dinner and referred to the painting. Similarly, in Norman Jewison’s 1973 movie Jesus Christ Superstar, each of the actors played in a scene imitating Jesus and his 12 apostles. The famous fresco painting was also featured in Mel Brooks’s 1981 film “World of the World, Part I”. The director has fictionalized Jesus Christ and Leonardo da Vinci as contemporary. Apart from the quotations seen on the big screen, The Last Supper has also found its place in television series. Productions such as “70s Show”, “The X-Files”, “The Simpsons”, “South Park” and “Murdoch Mysteries” are the most famous series that have included Leonardo's famous painting in one episode.

The Last Supper in the Bible

The Exodus Departure of the Israelites David Roberts's famous painting was created in 1829, depicting the run from Egypt.
The Exodus Departure of the
Israelites David Roberts (1829)
The Last Supper in the gospels coincides with each other. Bead and wine were the last meal Jesus ate. Saint Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, which had been written before all Gospels, does not give the details of the last supper meal, but reminds the event and contains information on a theological basis. According to Jewish traditions, The Passover meal is a testament to how fast the Israelites had to be during their escape from Egypt. They did not use yeast to rise their bread, and they saved their lives by smearing the blood of the first sacrificed lamb on their door. In a sense, Jesus is the lamb who purifies people from their sins.

The Last Supper Location, Milan

The site of the Last Supper also named the Cenacle, is the place of the room where Jesus ate his last dinner in Jerusalem.
The Site of the Last Supper
the Cenacle on Mount Zion
in Jerusalem
The Last Supper located in Santa Maria delle Grazie, is one of the most famous paintings in Italy and all over the world. The church and Dominican convent are situated in Milan City of northern Italy. Santa Maria delle Grazie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the value of its refectory, which contains the Leonardo da Vinci’s mural fresco The Last Supper painting. yet, the site of the Last Supper, also known as the Cenacle on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the room is known as a holy place for both Jews and Muslims too. While the ground floor is a home for the Tomb of King David, the second floor is believed as where Jesus and his followers have gone through Passover and the real Last Supper meal is eaten.

The Last Supper Price

The Mona Lisa Leonardo da Vinci painted, as most famous painting in the world, along with the Last Supper, c. 1503-1517.
Mona Lisa by Leonardo
da Vinci (1503-1517)
The Last Supper mural has never been sold. It is difficult to put a value on the fresco due to its fixed location in the church refectory and its invaluable importance. Mona Lisa assessed 100 million dollars in an exhibition in Louvre Museum of Paris on December 14 of 1962. With an inflation account, Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting in the world, Mona Lisa is approximately worth of 911 million dollars in 2022, while the Last Supper painting price can currently be assumed as close to that and around 1 billion dollars. The second most famous painting Leonardo da Vinci created is in the dimension of 460 cm × 880 cm (180 inches × 350 inches) and the Last Supper wall art is still decorating the refectory of the church and Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Italy.

Day of the Last Supper Holy Thursday

Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ painting, also known as The Arrest of Jesus created in 1602, related to the Last Supper.
The Taking of Christ
(The Arrest of Jesus)
by Caravaggio (1602)
The Last Supper day as Maundy Thursday is known as the day when Jesus ate his last meal in Christianity, however new studies have revealed that the day is actually Wednesday. According to the study by Colin Humphreys, an academician from Cambridge University, comparing the Gospels of Luke, Matthew and Mark, it was concluded that the date of the arrest of Jesus by the Roman soldiers should have been April 1, 33 AD. This situation revealed that there was an error in the calculations because the Jews of that period used an older version of the current calendars used today. According to the Julian calendar, which is considered more accurate by historians, the day of the Last Supper Passover meal and his arrest on the same night is determined as Wednesday.
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci Reviewed by Articonog on February 27, 2022 Rating: 5

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