The last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci

The last Supper
To Christians, the Last Supper is considered o­ne of the most epic as well as tragic events in the life of Jesus for this was the night which he announced before those assembled that o­ne of them would betray him. Many artists have recreated this emotional scene but the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci has surpassed all others in its fame and distinction due, in large part, to its intense realism. Instead of creating a mere representation of the scene, da Vinci succeeds in capturing an almost portrait-like quality in each face, demonstrating the emotion and dismay that the Apostles must have felt upon hearing that o­ne of their own would betray Jesus.

Painted by da Vinci in the 15th century over the course of three years, the Last Supper was commissioned by his patron, the Duke Ludovico Sforza, for the refectory of Santa Maria della Grazie, a Dominican convent in Milan, Italy where the original mural still resides.

The scene depicts Jesus with his twelve Apostles, all of whom are bearing poignant expressions, some of shock and some of anger, upon their faces. Although perhaps difficult to differentiate the other Apostles, Judas is unmistakable as a man in shadow, clutching a bag to symbolize the bag of silver which he would take in exchange for Jesus.

Unfortunately, the Last Supper has not withstood the test of time well. Unlike the frescoes of the time, da Vinci painted the mural o­n dry as opposed to wet plaster, causing the painting to flake almost as soon as it was completed. In addition, the convent's refectory in which the piece resides has been the site of vandalism, war, as well as bombings during WWII. Because of this and the frequent need for restoration, very little of the original painting currently exists.