As one of the most creative and influential minds of the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo Da Vinci was a talented artist, sculptor, scientist and inventor.
One of the most famous of Leonardo’s works is The Last Supper fresco in Italy’s second largest city, Milan, a masterpiece which has enjoyed a boost in recent years thanks to the incredible success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
Read on to discover what you will see when visiting the iconic The Last Supper in Milan.
The Last Supper
In the Bible, The Last Supper depicts the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples before his betrayal by Judas and subsequent arrest and crucifixion. During the meal Jesus blessed and shared bread and wine, and predicted that he would be betrayed by one of those sharing the meal with him.
Leonardo Da Vinci was commissioned by Milan’s ruling Sforza family to create a fresco depicting The Last Supper in 1495. Over a period of 3 years Leonardo painted his masterpiece on a large wall of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Always a popular attraction to the stylish city, The Last Supper has become known not only for Leonardo’s skilled use of strong perspective and light, but also for theories over his meaning and intent.
The painting broke with traditional versions of The Last Supper in several ways. Leonardo chose to include Judas in the Apostle group, where in the past he had been portrayed alone at the table, away from the other Apostles. He showed the movement and reaction of the Apostles by representing the moment immediately after Jesus says to his Apostles that one of them would betray him. As with prior depictions, he had Jesus and his 12 Apostles seated on one side of the table, facing the fresco’s observer. Leonardo Da Vinci placed Jesus at the centre of the table, with 4 groups of 3 Apostles, in trinities, clustered to each side of him.
From left to right of the fresco, Leonardo shows us Bartholomew with James the Younger and Andrew, then a group of the knife wielding Peter, who was later to attack a member of the arresting party and thus go against the teachings of Jesus, the shadowy figure of Judas the betrayer, and the figure of John, the youngest Apostle, who seems about to faint. The focus of the painting and haloed by a large window is Jesus, at the table’s centre and the vanishing point of the fresco. To the right of Jesus is the shocked group of Thomas, James the Elder and Phillip, while in the far right are Matthew, Thaddeus and Simon, who seem to be having a heated discussion and are not looking at Jesus.
Leonardo Da Vinci was not trained in the normal fresco techniques, and did not work in the best materials. He painted in tempera on a plaster surface, with the result that dampness caused the painting to start deteriorating in his own lifetime. Many restorations have been attempted over the years, with the most recent conservation work restoring the painting over a 20 year period.
Visit The Last Supper
As one of the most famous paintings in the world, The Last Supper is a very popular attraction in Milan, and visitors are therefore required to book a ticket in advance for a 15 minute viewing session. Be sure to make the most of a visit by hiring the audio guide for your viewing of this spectacular painting at the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Visitors should also make a trip to Milan’s Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum, which focuses on his work toward transport engineering, as well as his contribution to science.
Finally, see artworks which may have inspired Leonard himself and head to the Sforzesco Castle in Milan. The Castle houses a great collection of art and artefacts, including Egyptian and prehistoric art, applied art, furnishings and sculpture, a Museum of Ancient Art, and 230 works of art with masterpieces by Mantegna, Cerano, and more.
Plan Your Visit
Discover The Last Supper and more treasures with a break in a sophisticated Milan hotel. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Milan is located in the heart of the city. Relax in our stylish rooms, enjoy contemporary Italian dishes at our Filini restaurant, and unwind in our spa and fitness facilities, all at a convenient location for Milan's cultural attractions.
Do you believe The Last Supper conspiracy theories from The Da Vinci Code?