The objective of this study is to trace the compositional, stylistic and symbolic development of the story of the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci and what makes Leonardo's work unique. Earlier examples will be cited including those of Andrea del Castagno or Domenico Ghirlandaio. The three sources will be annotated with a 10-sentence paragraph reviewing the source. Each annotation will include full sentences in essay format that detail what the link explores and how it is organized.
Art & Critique
The website 'Art & Critique' examines how the work of Leonardo Da Vinci entitled "The Last Supper" serves to unite "a personal interpretation of the event with a display of some general Renaissance aesthetic principles." (Art & Critique, 2012, p.1) It is reported that there is the confrontation of "an idiosyncratic vision" and in contrast a "generalist, if not dogmatic principle." (Art & Critique, 2012, p. 1) The writer of the 'Art & Critique' states that the artist "narrows in on the faces of the apostles, their features, highly agitated, become vehicles of emotional expressions" as understood by the artist. (Art & Critique, 2012, p.1) This is held to proffer to those viewing the work a perspective on the "emotional realm" of the artist and it is stated that the artist through use of the behavior of the apostles "pours out his own sentiment." (Art & Critique, 2012, p.1) As the viewers moves past the analysis of the separate figures or three groups of figures and their gaze shifts "towards the overall organization -- the long table, the hall space, the receding perspective -- we transpose into a plane where intimacy and private experience give way to compositional concerns. Broadly speaking, Renaissance 'takes over'. Consequently, the schematic linear disposition of the actors becomes a straightforward and powerful compositional tool, as it imposes on observers a certain way of viewing. The air and light in the room and the landscape beyond it appear to absorb, and perhaps diffuse some of the tension developing at the table." (Art & Critique, 2012, p.1) In terms of the composition it is reported by the writer in 'Art & Critique' that the painting makes a division of what are "five distinct groups" which are reported to be inclusive of "four clusters of three apostles which flank a fifth central figure of Jesus of Nazareth." (Art & Critique, 2012, p. 1) Stated as well by the writer in the Art & Critique is that a "classic linear formula" is relied on by Da Vinci however, that Da Vinci "enhances it with as much sophistication and elegance as possible to avoid any formulaic traps" and this is reported to be "systematically granulated" and as such to be adherent to the Renaissance ideals through using "triangular/pyramidal shapes, and maintaining symmetry between the apostle clusters." (Art & Critique, 2012, p. 1) It is also stated that in the work of Da Vinci in this particular painting that Christ "acts as a central axis" with each of the two groups mirroring one another all which is in support of the theological principles of Jesus being the Christian faith's central axis. (Art & Critique, 2012, p. 1) Christ is portrayed as the protagonist and his expression is one of resignation and acceptance and further Da Vinci has highlighted the isolation of Christ as he is not in direct contact with any other member of the group. Da Vinci portrays Christ in this scene with features that "bespeak an air of the supernatural, of being removed from earthly concerns." (Art & Critique, 2012, p. 1) The antagonist is easily identified as Judas is portrayed with a clenched fist and this is sharply contrasted as Christ is depicted with his palms open. According to this source, Judas is clutching a salt shaker in his hand which speaks of money although there are different interpretations reviewed in this study.
II. Leonardoa Milano
The work of Lenardoa Milano entitled "The Last Supper & Santa Maria delle Grazie" reports on the composition of Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and states that the representation of Da Vinci is differentiated from the biblical representation since the biblical representation has the apostles sitting quietly at the table with Christ and when Christ has related to them the tragedy that will occur that the apostles "shrink back in terror" However, in Da Vinci's painting, there is no chaos as the apostles "fall quite naturally in groups of three on his left and right, linked to each other by gestures and movements." (Milano, 2014, p. 1) Da Vinci's work is reported to be "a harmonious interplay of movements." (Milano, 2015, p. 1) This is reported to be quite an achievement in a painting "which is by its nature static." (Milano, 2014, p. 1) It is also stated that the lighting in the scene is a "cold clear light that brings forth in analytic detail every object" including the food, plates, the transparency of the glasses and the folds and decorations in the tablecloth all forming what is called an "extraordinary still life frieze." (Milano, 2014, p. 1) It is reported as well that from the gestures of the apostles it can be noted that the closer the figures are to the center of the depicted scene "the more marked their reactions are." (Milano, 2014, p. 1) It is stated that this results from the understanding that Da Vinci had in regards to the "laws of acoustics" that he was studying during the time in which he painted the scene of "The Last Supper." Da Vinci is noted as stating "those who are closer better understand, the further do not hear at all." (Milano, 2014, p. 1) Finally, it is noted that there were "traces of gold and silver leaf" found in the painting of "The Last Supper" indicating the desire of Da Vinci to realistically portray the scene through placing an emphasis in the light in key areas of the painting. (Milano, 2014, p. 1)
III. Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance website states that in Da Vinci's painting "The Last Supper" that the effect was created that the "room in which Christ and the apostles are seen was an extension of the refectory. This is quite appropriate, since the Last Supper takes up the basic theme (eating) of the purpose of the refectory. The extension of space that we see here is similar to what we saw with Masaccio's Holy Trinity fresco, painted in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Leonardo is thus using some of the same pictorial devices used by his painter predecessors earlier in the century." (2014, p.1) The scene is reported to demonstrate the figures in a room that is rectangular "with coffers on the ceiling and tapestries on either side of the room. The room terminates at three windows on end of wall and through the windows we can see into a beautiful landscape setting. We see how the landscape in the background terminates in a kind of misty, grayish horizon. This painterly device, in which the horizon's colors become more dull and colorless, is called aerial perspective and was used by Renaissance artists to create the illusion of depth in landscape scenes." (Italian Renaissance, 2014, p. 1) In terms of the composition, Christ is reported to be centered among the apostles with his body forming a triangular shape and it is stated that no apostles overlap the figure of Christ. The apostles are in four groupings of three at the table with Christ seated in the center and it is believed that for Da Vinci, these numbers are important for some type of symbolic reasons. The example stated is that there are four Gospels in the Bible with three being the number of the Trinity. The painting features the…