The Last Supper (da Vinci)
Artist Leonard da Vinci
Date ca. 1495-98
Movement High Renaissance
Medium Tempera wall mural
Dimensions 15’2″ x 28’10”
Housed at Santa Maria della Grazie, Milan
This famous work was commissioned by Duke Ludovico for the refectory of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This painting depicts the moment after Jesus has just told his disciples that one of them would soon betray him – each apostle displays his own personality and relationship with Christ by way of his form; Peter, to Christ’s right, moves in defensively while holding a knife, while Judas, also to Christ’s right, moves back. Instead of including a nimbus of gold behind Christ’s head, da Vinci instead graces him with a holy block of light seeping in from the exterior, which also serves as the work’s vanishing point.
Leonardo experimented with an oil-tempera medium for this work, which did not apply well to the dry plaster given Milan’s humidity; this, along with renovations and damage to the wall, have left the piece somewhat muddled.