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The Last Supper

Arts | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod

The History behind Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’

Leonardo da Vinci, the famous painter and a great name in the world of art. He was famous for his ‘Fresco’ style of painting. The fresco style involved painting on a wet, plastered wall, not a dry one. Among his many paintings, the most famous and talked about painting was that of ‘The Last Supper’. Now, for those of you, who are not familiar with the story of the Last Supper, here is a glimpse into the teachings and Biblical history of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ was worshipped by many followers. Among all, Jesus had chosen his twelve best followers. But Jesus also had many enemies in Jerusalem who were against his ways and wanted to kill him. So Jesus knew that it is time he goes away from his disciples and thus wanted to have the ‘last’ meal or ‘last supper’ with them. In the evening Jesus, along with his disciples, sat on the table where dinner was to be served. Everyone was quiet because they were sad that someone they worshipped was going to be killed. Jesus then took a basin of water and began washing the feet of all his disciples. They hesitated and couldn’t understand what was going on. With this act Jesus wanted to teach his disciples that everyone is equal, no man is greater than the other and everyone should love each other. Jesus also had a prophecy which said that one of his disciples is going to hand him to the enemies. Jesus spent the rest of the time with his disciples, except Judas, his disciple, who left when asked and Jesus knew he would hand him to the enemies. Jesus talked earnestly to each of his disciples and asked them to follow his commandments. They celebrated and sang hymns and then left the room and went out of Jerusalem.

The Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci shows 13 people, including Jesus. Leonardo had also included Judas in this painting. This painting, though, was not a fresco but a tempera style on stone. In such a style the wall had to be first coated with many mixtures and then painted with a mix of oil on dry plaster. The painting took more than 4 years to complete and is extremely huge, almost 30 feet, an entire wall! Thus, it cannot be hung behind your bed! The painting was made on the wall of the Dining hall of Santa Maria in Milan, Italy ordered to be painted by the Duke of Milan.

The painting teaches the artists a point of perspective. The painting has Christ as the center point and all eyes and attention straightaway focus on the midpoint- Christ. The disciples are evenly arranged on his left and right. There is bread, meat and wine laid out for all on the table. It symbolizes the lesson that Christ later gave to his disciples and told them how to eat and drink in the future, remembering his teachings. The ceilings and walls of the painting have been made with intricate details.

Unfortunately the painting, soon after it was finished, began to wear off as early as the 16th century. After this, changes in temperatures, humidity, and moisture began to decay the painting. Many attempts have been made to restore this work of great art. And after many restorations, for several centuries, the painting still stands as the world’s greatest painting.

Interesting Facts about The Last Supper

1. It was Leonardo’s idea to make the painting a little dramatic, by not making the disciples sit on a circular table, as is the custom, but to make them stand and talk and gossip, providing an element of drama in the painting.

2. Leonardo’s main motive to bring out the central point in this painting was the announcement by Jesus about one of his disciples being a traitor. So what happened at the table when Jesus announced this- is depicted beautifully in the painting. His disciples, confused, some asking Jesus if it is them and some trying to digest the news.

3. The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all times, and has been reproduced on mirrors, walls, cups, cushions and everything else!

4. Even though the painting started to decay, it revealed many illusionist effects, thus making Leonardo an expert in his new technique of painting. From the decay, people have discovered a hole found on the forehead of Christ, suggesting that Leonardo made this as the focal point of the entire painting.

5. The Last Supper is a painting of 13 men but years of decay have also revealed that the one disciple sitting on the right of Jesus is none other than, Mary Magdalene. She was believed to be the wife of Jesus and one of his followers. Though many do not believe in this, one thing is sure, that Leonardo knew that his painting, when decayed would bring out certain interesting facts.

For more interesting and informative Arts articles, visit our Art for Kids category.